In the weeks leading up to the 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in detail here on the blog. This year’s distinguished alum in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences category is Dr. Henry Baker ’78, and Ph.D. ’84, biological sciences. At the University of Florida College of Medicine, Dr. Baker is the Hazel Kitzman Professor of Genetics, as well as a professor of surgery and chair of the department of molecular genetics and microbiology. He is also associate director of the University of Florida Genetics Institute.
As a researcher at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Dr. Henry Baker looks at patients’ genes to determine how they will respond to certain types of treatment for traumatic injuries, as well as what their prognosis might be. The Catonsville native got his start when UMBC was, in his words, “that new college down the street,” conducting undergraduate research in Dr. Frank Hanson’s laboratory. “The biological sciences curriculum was exceptionally well laid out,” he says, “and the integration with undergraduate labs was phenomenal.” After completing his doctorate under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Wolf — someone who Dr. Baker says had the greatest impact on his career — he went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School before accepting a faculty position at Florida, where he’s been ever since. Over the past three decades (and counting), he’s risen in the ranks from assistant professor to endowed professor and department chair, and also sits on the executive and medical admissions committees. He has stayed in contact with his Ph.D. mentor over the years, and says he is proud of how far UMBC has come since he was a student here, particularly in the achievements of President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. He also takes pride in his relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, and in working with diverse groups of people to help them achieve their goals.