Dr Stephen R. Baker

Dr Stephen R. Baker

Profile

My background is in Physics and more specifically Biophysics. I received my BSc in Physics from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, USA. At RIT I was fortunate to start my research career using light scattering on proteins in calf lenses to determine the cause of electric charge changes in the proteins as the eye ages.

After graduating from RIT, I started my PhD studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, USA. Here I used novel atomic force microscopy techniques to determine the mechanical properties of blood clots. I received my PhD under the supervision of Professor Martin Guthold in 2015. My dissertation was entitled  "Determining single fiber nanomechanical properties of electrospun protein fibers and modified fibrin fibers using atomic force microscopy". In 2016, I accepted a Post Doctoral Research Fellow Position to work with Professor Robert Ariëns to elucidate the mechanical and structural properties of fibrin fibres and blood clots. 

Research interests

My research is focused on determining the mechanical and structural properties of fibrin clots using atomic force microscopy (AFM), microrheology, and light scattering techniques. Our AFM facilities here at the University of Leeds are unique from many other universities. In total, we have more than 8 state-of-the-art AFMs. These are used for imaging at fast and slow speeds, normal force measurements from the single molecule scale up to the cell scale, lateral force/ fluorescence measurements, and a unique AFM/ Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) system allowing for combined measurements. Together, this allows us to look at early polymerization of fibrin on the single molecule level. We can then determine how polymerization affects the mechanical properties of single fibrin fibers. The FLIM capabilities uniquely allow for AFM imaging of particular areas, which have been fluorescently labeled, giving pinpoint precision and direct overlay of fluorescent/AFM micrographs. 

In addition, we are also able to determine micrometer scale mechanical properties of fibrin and plasma clots using our in-house built Magnetic Tweezers microscope. Using micrometer size magnetic beads embedded into the clot, we can determine viscoelastic mechanical properties on clots made from small volumes (<50 µl). We also using light scattering to determine the molecular arrangement of fibrin molecules in fibrin fibers and fiber radius. We use these techniques to study molecularly modified fibrinogen and plasma from cardiovascular disease patients. I collaborate with researchers in the USA and Poland. Ultimately, my aim is to elucidate mechanisms that cause cardiovascular-related diseases. 

Qualifications

  • PhD (Wake Forest University, NC, USA)
  • BSc (Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, USA)

Professional memberships

  • International Fibrinogen Research Society
  • British Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
  • International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis

Student education

Supervisor for Intercalated Cardiovascular BSc Student (2018-2019)

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine
  • Discovery and Translational Science