Josh E. Baker Ph.D.: Biography/Education

Associate Professor; INBRE Principal Investigator/Director; Interim Chair, Department of Pharmacology

Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology | Department of Pharmacology | Nevada INBRE


  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota 1999
  • B.A. Hamline University 1987

Teaching Experience

  • Courses completed: Educational psychology, Introduction to teaching, Teaching science.
  • 1985, Teaching Practicum: Physics (40 hours) Roseville Senior High, Roseville, MN
  • 1987, Instructor: Circuit analysis (15 lectures, 5 labs) Hamline University.
  • 1987, Instructor: General Physics (9 labs) Hamline University.
  • 1994-1995, Teaching Assistant: Biochemistry (3 recitations) U of M.
  • 1994-1995, Teaching Assistant: Biochemistry (3 recitations) U of M.
  • 2006-2009, Coordinator: Curriculum Coordinator Medical Biochemistry
  • 2007, Instructor: BCH 707: Protein Structure Function (6 contact hours/year)
  • 2005-present, Instructor: PCB 610: Medical Cell Biology (6 contact hours/year)
  • 2007-present, Instructor: BCH 601: Medical Biochemistry (30 contact hours/year)
  • 2008-present, Instructor: CMB 710: Molecular Cell Biology (4 contact hours/year)
  • 2009, Instructor: BCH 794: Supramolecular Structures (6 contact hours/year)

Service, Societies, Honors and Awards

  • 1992-2000, Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.
  • 1994, Graduate Fellowship BBMB, University of Minnesota
  • 1995-1996, National Science Foundation Training Grant
  • 2000-2002, National Institutes of Health Training Grant
  • 1993-present, Biophysical Society Member
  • 2006-2007, Organizer/Chair Motility Subgroup Biophysical Society
  • 2006-2010, Department of Biochemistry Personnel Committee
  • 2006-2008, Course Coordinator BCH601: Medical Biochemistry
  • 2006-present, Medical School Admissions Committee
  • 2009-present, Co-Chair Medical School Honors Council
  • 2010, Board of Regents Rising Researcher Award: Review for Biophysical Journal, Biochemistry, Journal Biological Chemistry, Journal Theoretical Biology, Proceedings National Academy of Sciences

Invited Symposium Presentations

  • 2000 Gordon Conference on Theoretical Biology and Biomathematics (session chair). Tilton, NH. Molecular motors.
  • 2001 Alpbach Workshop on Molecular Motors. Alpbach, Austria. Actin-myosin mechanochemistry: Single molecule and ensemble studies.
  • 2001 Fifth International Muscle Energetics Conference. Burlington, VT. Actin movement and actomyosin ATPase kinetics.
  • 2001 New York State Section American Physical Society 83rd Topical Symposium, Albany, NY. Biophysical chemistry of a molecular motor.
  • 2002 Gordon Conference on Muscle:Contractile Proteins. New London, NH. Single molecule comparative mechanochemistry.
  • 2002 Tenth Annual Meeting of the New England Smooth Muscle Society. Burlington, VT. Mechanochemistry of a minus-insert smooth muscle heavy meromyosin.
  • 2003 McGill University Beer Seminar. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A Common Mechanism for Myosin V Processivity and Smooth Muscle Latch.
  • 2004 Mathematical Biosciences Institute Workshop on Signal Transduction II: Muscles and Motility. Columbus, OH. Free energy transduction by chemical motors.
  • 2004 Proteomics Workshop IV: Molecular Machines. Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM). Los Angeles, CA. The energetics of chemical motors.
  • 2005 Biophysical Society Motility Subgroup: A Panoply of Motors. Long Beach, CA. Exploring the multiple kinetic pathways for myosin V processivity.
  • 2006 Sixth International Muscle Energetics Conference. Banff, Alberta Canada. The macroscopic mechanochemistry of muscle.
  • 2006 FASEB smooth muscle. Snowmass, CO. Actin binding in relation to muscle force and motion generation.
  • 2008 ACS National Meeting. Philadelphia, PA The collective mechanics of myosin in muscle.
  • 2008 University of Northern Texas. Fort Worth, TX. The collective dynamics of myosin in muscle.
  • 2009 First International Symposium on Optical Tweezers. Zurich, Switzerland The mechanochemistry of single myosin molecules
  • 2009 Biophysical Society Meeting. Boston, MA The collective mechanics of myosin in muscle.
  • 2009 University of California Davis, Davis, CA The collective mechanics of myosin in muscle.
  • 2010 Alpbach Meeting on Muscle and Molecular Motors, Alpbach, Austria Cooperative and collective behaviors in muscle
  • 2011 University of Nevada, Reno, Physics Department Seminar Muscle Contraction: Single Molecule to Collective Mechanics


We use single molecule techniques (TIR fluorescence microscopy and optical traps) to study how mechanoenzymes like actin and myosin transfer chemical free energy to mechanical work and inversely how they convert mechanical signals into chemical responses. We are particularly interested in understanding how the mechanochemical behaviors of single molecules scale up to the mechanochemical behaviors of bulk cellular systems. We use mathematical and computer models to integrate our multi-scale experimental studies, developing self-consistent descriptions of muscle contraction, intracellular transport, and mechanical signal transduction.

Ongoing Research Support

  • NIH R01 HL0909038 A Multi-Scale Study of the Interplay Between Fore Generating and Force Sensing Mechanisms. $1,354,712
    NIH COBRE Smooth Muscle Plasticity – a COBRE Renewal. $750,000

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