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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

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Faculty Detail

Baird, Barbara A

Horace White Professor

phone: 607/255-4095
room: Olin Chemistry Research Wing, Room 660A


Department Appointments

  • Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CHEM)
  • College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Fields

  • Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  • Pharmacology

Other Affiliations

  • Chemical Biology and Experimental Therapeutics Committee
  • Kavli Institute at Cornell for NanoScale Science
  • Nanobiotechnology Center (NBTC)
  • Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology Advisory Committee


Biophysical studies of membrane receptor proteins, signal transduction and cellular responses


The Baird laboratory employs a broad range of biophysico-chemical methods to investigate the structure and molecular mechanisms of cell surface receptors that operate in immunological and other responses. How are complex cellular responses controlled in time and space? Our biophysical characterization is carried out in conjunction with extensive measurements of cellular activities to determine the features critical for the initiation and regulation of signal transduction. A particular area of interest is the role of cellular membranes in targeting these responses. Many of our current studies focus on signaling pathways initiated by the receptor (FceRI) for immunoglobulin E (IgE) that plays a central role in allergic and inflammatory responses and serves as a model for other types of immune receptors. We apply similar methods to other receptors, currently including growth factor receptors involved in cancer. The goal of our integrated studies is to elucidate complex biological systems on a molecular level; the information obtained also has important biomedical applications in drug design and clinical therapies.

Selected Publications

[ A complete list of publications can be found on the Baird-Holowka Group webpage]

Wu, M., D. Holowka, H.G. Craighead and B. Baird. 2004. Visualization of plasma membrane compartmentalization with patterned plasma membrane bilayers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:13798-13803.

Young, R.M., X. Zheng, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2005. Reconstitution of Regulated phosphorylation of FcεRI by a lipid raft-excluded protein tyrosine phosphatase. J. Biol. Chem. 280:1230-1235.

Hammond, A.T., T. Baumgart, A.K Smith, D. Holowka, B. Baird and G.W. Feigenson. 2005. Crosslinking a lipid raft component triggers raft-like phases in model plasma membranes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102:6320-6325.

Holowka, D., J.A. Gosse, A.T. Hammond, X. Han, P. Sengupta, N.L. Smith, A. Wagenknecht-Wiesner, M. Wu, R.M. Young and B. Baird. 2005. Lipid segretion and IgE receptor signaling: a decade of progress. Biophys. Biochim. Acta. 1746:252-259.

Larson, D.R, J.A. Gosse, D. Holowka, B. Baird and W.W. Webb. 2005. Temporally Resolved Interactions Between Antigen-Stimulated IgE Receptors and Lyn Kinase on Living Cells Revealed by Fluorescence Cross-correlation Spectroscopy. J. Cell. Biol. 171:527-536.

Swamy, M.J., L. Ciani, M. Ge, D. Holowka, B. Baird and J.H. Freed. 2006. Coexisting domains in the plasma membranes of live cells characterized by spin label ESR Spectroscopy. Biophys. J. 90:4452-4465.

Burns, A., P. Sengupta, T. Zedayko, B. Baird and U. Wiesner. 2006. Core-Shell Fluorescent Silica Nanoparticles for Chemical Sensing: Towards Single Particle Laboratories. Small 2:723-726.

Sengupta, P., D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2007. Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Between Lipid Probes Detects Nanoscopic Heterogeneity in the Plasma Membrane of Live Cells. Biophys. J. 92:3564-3574.

Moran-Mirabal, J.M., A.J. Torres, K.T. Samiee, B.A. Baird and H.G. Craighead. 2007. Cell investigation of nanostructures: Zero-Mode Waveguides for plasma membrane studies with single molecule resolution. Nanotechnology 18: 195101-195111.

Sil, D., J.B. Lee, D. Luo, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2007. Trivalent ligands with rigid DNA spacers reveal structural requirements for IgE receptor signaling in RBL mast cells. ACS Chemical Biology 2:674-684.

Veatch, S., P. Cicuta, P. Sengupta, A. Honerkamp-Smith, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2008. Critical Fluctuations in Plasma Membrane Vesicles.  ACS Chem. Biol. 3(5): 287-293.

Torres, A.J., M. Wu, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2008. Nanobiotechnology and Cell Biology: Micro- and Nanofabricated Surfaces to Investigate Receptor-Mediated Signaling. Annu. Rev. Biophys. 37: 265-288.

Calloway, N., M. Vig, J.-P. Kinet, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2009. Molecular Clustering of STIM1 with Orai1/CRACM1 at the Plasma Membrane Depends Dynamically on Depletion of Ca2+ Stores and on Electrostatic Interactions. Mol. Biol. Cell 20(1): 389-399.

Vasudevan, L., A. Jeromin, L. Volpicelli-Daley, P. De Camilli, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2009. The b- and g-isoforms of type I PIP5K regulate distinct stages of Ca2+ signaling in mast cells.  J. Cell Sci. 122 (14): 2567-2574.

Cohen, R., A. Torres, H.-T. Ma, D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2009. Ca2+ Waves Initiate Antigen-Stimulated Ca2+ Responses in Mast Cells.  J. Immunol. 183(10): 6478-6488.

Calloway, N., D. Holowka and B. Baird. 2010. A Basic Sequence in STIM1 Promotes Ca2+ Influx by Interacting with the C-Terminal Acidic Coiled-Coil of Orai1.  Biochemistry 49(6): 1067-1071.

Kelly, C.V., B.A. Baird and H.G. Craighead. 2011. An Array of Planar Apertures for Near-Field Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy.  Biophys. J. 100(7): L34-L36.

Chiang, E.N., R. Dong, C.K. Ober and B.A. Baird. 2011. Cellular Responses to Patterned Poly(acrylic acid) Brushes.  Langmuir 27(11): 7016-7023.

Awards and Distinctions

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Sections of Chemistry and Biology)
  • Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
  • Harold Lamport Award for Biophysics and Physiology, New York Academy of Sciences
  • National Science Foundation Women in Science and Engineering Faculty Award
  • Postdoctoral Fellow of Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund (at the National Institutes of Health)