Speed. Specificity. Sensitivity.
Biology is dynamic, complex, and small. To understand how biology works at the molecular level, we need measurements with high temporal, and chemical resolutions that can measure small changes from small samples. We’re developing new technologies in microfluidics, chemical separations, and biomimetic sensors to achieve faster, more selective, and more sensitive measurements of biomolecules.
Listening in on cell-to-cell communications
A bacteria contains all the biology it needs to survive within a single cell, but humans are not so simple. Our cells constantly work together to orchestrate our biology, and to do this they must communicate. The technologies we are developing are designed to listen in to the communications between our cells to discover how our biology works, and what goes wrong when these communications break down.
Neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration
Our brains are our communication organs. At the macro scale they enable us to communicate with one another, and at the micro scale they operate on the basis of well orchestrated cell-to-cell communications. We are building technologies to model communication networks in vitro, with the long term goal of modeling mechanisms of disrupted cellular communications that may play important roles in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studying cellular-level biology requires new tools that can manipulate samples at the micron scale. We are developing microfluidic instrumentation and other microsystems that automate sample handling and analysis of volumes at the nL scale and below. This involves instrument design and engineering, as well as the development of new microfabrication techniques.
Biological samples are chemically complex. To achieve the chemical resolution needed to understand biology, we employ separation techniques such a UHPLC and CE. We develop assays to improve targeted hormone detection by these methods, and instrumentation to improve analytical performance and achieve separations of nL – pL sample volumes.
Evolution has had millions of years to develop elegant, sensitive, and selective mechanisms for sensing cell-to-cell communications. So, the cells that we study are far more adept at measuring these signals than we are. This inspires us to develop new sensor systems that use native biological mechanisms to measure cell-to-cell signaling molecules. These sensors are based on synthetic models of the cell membrane, mimicking phenomena that occur at the cell surface as part of native cell-to-cell communication processes.
The Baker Group
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Past group members
Laura Casto, Ph.D. -Graduate Student 2015 – 19
Allison Tomczyk – Graduate Student 2018 – 19
Marlene Dugger, Ph.D. – Postdoc 2016 – 18
Alex Anderson – M.S. Chemistry 2018
Wes Cox – B.S. Chemistry 2018
Matt Graham – B.S. Chemistry 2018
Hannah Emery – B.S. Chemistry 2018
Stephanie Horton – B.M. Violin Performance 2018
Victoria Norman – Summer 2017 REU Student (NC A&T)
Larry Warfield – Graduate Student 2015 – 17
Jen Schuster – B.S. Chemistry 2017
Corey Sutton – B.S. Chemistry 2017
Chase Lindsay – B.S. Chemistry 2016
Yhazmyne Hawkins – B.S. Chemistry 2017
Claire Neice – Summer 2016 REU Student (Va. Tech)
Patrick Ryan Phillips – B.S. Chemistry 2016
Angela Sipaseuth – B.S. Chemistry 2016
Baker Bioanalysis Lab Publications
Casto, L. D.; Do, K.D.; Baker, C. A.; A Miniature 3D Printed LED-Induced Fluorescence Detector for Capillary Electrophoresis and Dual-Detector Taylor Dispersion Analysis Analytical Chemistry 2019, (accepted, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b05824) [Link]
Dugger M.E.; Baker C.A.; Automated formation of black lipid membranes within a microfluidic device via confocal fluorescence feedback–controlled hydrostatic pressure manipulations Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2019, 411, 4605–4614 [Link]
Sandy, K.E.; Condarcure A.M.; Sutton C.T.; Baker C.A.; Gallagher E.S.; Bright L.K.; Aspinwall C.A.; Rapid formation of polymer frits in fused silica capillaries using spatially defined thermal free‐radical initiated polymerization Separation Science Plus 2018 , 1 , 753-758. [Link]
Casto, L. D.; Schuster, J.A.; Neice, C.D.; Baker, C. A.; Characterization of low adsorption filter membranes for electrophoresis and electrokinetic sample manipulations in microfluidic paper-based analytical devices Analytical Methods 2018 , 10 (29), 3616-3623. [Link]
Baker, C. A.; Schudel, B.; Chaudhari, M.I.; Wu, K.; Dunford, D.; Singh, A.K.; Rempe, S. B.; Hatch, A.V.; Nanoporous Hydrogels for the Observation of Anthrax Exotoxin Translocation Dynamics. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2018, 10 (16), 13342–13349. [Link]
Casto, L. D.; Baker, C. A. Microfluidics in Cell-to-Cell Signaling Measurements. European Pharmaceutical Review 2016, 21 (3), 30–33. [PDF]
CB’s previous publications
Bright, L. K.; Baker, C. A.; Bränström, R.; Saavedra, S. S.; Aspinwall, C. A. Methacrylate Polymer Scaffolding Enhances the Stability of Suspended Lipid Bilayers for Ion Channel Recordings and Biosensor Development. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2015, 1 (10), 955–963.
Baker, C. A.; Aspinwall, C. A. Emerging Trends in Precision Fabrication of Microapertures to Support Suspended Lipid Membranes for Sensors, Sequencing, and Beyond. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2015, 407 (3), 647–652.
Gallagher, E. S.; Adem, S. M.; Baker, C. A.; Ratnayaka, S. N.; Jones, I. W.; Hall, H. K.; Saavedra, S. S.; Aspinwall, C. A. Highly Stabilized, Polymer–lipid Membranes Prepared on Silica Microparticles as Stationary Phases for Capillary Chromatography. J. Chromatogr. A 2015, 1385, 28–34.
Bright, L. K.; Baker, C. A.; Agasid, M. T.; Ma, L.; Aspinwall, C. A. Decreased Aperture Surface Energy Enhances Electrical, Mechanical, and Temporal Stability of Suspended Lipid Membranes. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2013, 5 (22), 11918–11926.
Baker, C. A.; Bright, L. K.; Aspinwall, C. A. Photolithographic Fabrication of Microapertures with Well-Defined, Three-Dimensional Geometries for Suspended Lipid Membrane Studies. Anal. Chem. 2013, 85 (19), 9078–9086.
Yu, Y.; Li, B.; Baker, C. A.; Zhang, X.; Roper, M. G. Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction Using Infrared Heating on a Microfluidic Chip. Anal. Chem. 2012, 84 (6), 2825–2829.
Baker, C. A.; Roper, M. G. A Continuous-Flow, Microfluidic Fraction Collection Device. J. Chromatogr. A 2010, 1217 (28), 4743–4748.
Baker, C. A.; Roper, M. G. Online Coupling of Digital Microfluidic Devices with Mass Spectrometry Detection Using an Eductor with Electrospray Ionization. Anal. Chem. 2012, 84 (6), 2955–2960.
Ventura, D. N.; Li, S.; Baker, C. A.; Breshike, C. J.; Spann, A. L.; Strouse, G. F.; Kroto, H. W.; Acquah, S. F. A. A Flexible Cross-Linked Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube Paper for Sensing Hydrogen. Carbon N. Y. 2012, 50 (7), 2672–2674.
Baker, C. A.; Bulloch, R.; Roper, M. G. Comparison of Separation Performance of Laser-Ablated and Wet-Etched Microfluidic Devices. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2011, 399 (4), 1473–1479.
Baker, C. A.; Duong, C. T.; Grimley, A.; Roper, M. G. Recent Advances in Microfluidic Detection Systems. Bioanalysis 2009, 1 (5), 967–975.