MILWAUKEE – David Baker, associate professor of biomedical sciences in Marquette’s College of Health Sciences, has been recognized for outstanding achievements in basic science by NARSAD with the 2010 Freedman Award for his research in the area of treating schizophrenia. Baker is one of five young investigators being honored nationally by NARSAD, the world’s leading donor-supported organization dedicated to finding the causes, improved treatments and cures for psychiatric illness. The recipient of the Freedman Award is selected from among these scientists by the NARSAD scientific council, which includes three Nobel Prize winners.
Baker has discovered a novel mechanism in the brain that may give rise to aspects of schizophrenia and has pursued the finding by developing novel medications for the disease. His preclinical findings, supported by clinical trials, show that this pharmaceutical therapy leads to significant improvement in symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
“All of us in the College of Health Sciences are incredibly proud of David, who continues to gain national attention for the important work he’s doing toward treating psychiatric illnesses,” Dean William Cullinan said. “His research is truly demonstrative of how scientific discovery in the university setting can and should be applied toward the greater good.”
Baker’s work has already borne fruit. Marquette in January 2009 signed a licensing agreement with Promentis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.*, which was founded by Baker and John Mantsch, another associate professor of biomedical sciences. Promentis is developing and commercializing chemical compounds that have shown promise as a novel treatment for schizophrenia and other central nervous system conditions.
The NARSAD Young Investigators are among the more than 3,000 scientists NARSAD has supported with funding for brain and behavior research. Since 1987 NARSAD has awarded more than $257 million in 3,790 grants to scientists worldwide. NARSAD is dedicated to finding the causes, improving treatments and preventing the psychiatric illnesses that affect one-in-four people in the United States.
*Marquette University holds an equity interest in Promentis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., as part of its agreement with Promentis to license intellectual property owned by the university to Promentis. In addition, the university is the recipient of a subaward with respect to research by David Baker, Ph.D., which involves the subject matter of the license agreement, and the university has provided certain facilities for the use of Promentis consultants in connection with this research.
Senior Media Relations Specialist