Professor Baines is currently Course Director for the MRes in Biomedical Science.
Her main research interest is the study of ion and solute transport across lung epithelium (tissues that line the cavities and surfaces of internal and external structures throughout the body) and how the volume and composition of airway surface fluid (ASL) is regulated. The respiratory tract is lined with a thin layer of ASL, which is important for lung defence against infection.
This research has centred on how hormones and environmental factors such as oxygen modulate cellular signalling mechanisms to regulate the transcription, translation and activity of transport proteins in the lung epithelial cell membrane. Transport of Na+ via the amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and Na+K+ATPase is essential for lung fluid homeostasis. Altered transport is linked with the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF), pseudohypoaldosteronism Type 1, respiratory distress syndrome of the newborn and with high altitude pulmonary oedema. A combination of molecular, electrophysiological and microscopy techniques are utilised to study these cellular signalling pathways.
In collaboration with other laboratories inside and outside St George’s, the group also studies the wider contribution of ion transport proteins (bestrophin, TMEM16A, Kv7s) and signalling pathways (TGFß, ERK5) to epithelial and non-epithelial cell function.
More recently, with clinical researchers at St George’s, Professor Baines has shown that glucose concentrations in ASL are normally 12 times lower than that of blood. However, they are raised in patients during airway inflammation (eg in respiratory diseases), when blood glucose levels are raised (hyperglycaemia; eg diabetes) and, more potently, when both are present, making the airway more susceptible to infection from pathogens such as methicillin-resistant S.aureus and P.aeruginosa. Current research is focussed on identifying the processes by which the lung epithelium keeps airway secretions free of glucose and how these change in disease. This involves the study of epithelial barrier and glucose transporter (GLUT, SGLT) function.
Professor Baines was awarded a PhD in Molecular Physiology at the University of Bristol in 1993. Following this she worked for a biotech company as a Senior Scientist before moving to the University of Dundee as a postdoctoral research fellow in Professor Richard Olver’s laboratory, working on the mechanisms regulating lung fluid homeostasis.
In 2000, she was appointed as a Tenure Track Scientist at St George’s where she developed a successful research team predominantly focused on the regulation of ion transport across airway epithelium. Over the last five years, she has developed a new and unexplored area of research, investigating glucose homeostasis in the lungs and how hyperglycaemia promotes respiratory infection. She was appointed Professor of Molecular Physiology in August 2013.
Professor Baines is an international Committee Member for Cell and Molecular Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. She is a Member of the British Pharmacological Society, the British Association for Lung Research and the Physiological Society, where she plays an active role in the Epithelia and Membrane Transport Specialist Interest Group. She is also the Physiological Society representative at St George’s.
In 2006 Professor Baines, along with clinical colleagues Professor Emma Baker and Dr Barbara Philips, was shortlisted for an NHS Innovation award. She has been an invited speaker at national and international research meetings and chaired a number of international symposia in the field.
Garnett JP, Baker EH, Naik S, Lindsay JA, Knight GM, Brodlie M, Gill S, Tregoning JS and Baines DL (2013). Metformin reduces airway glucose permeability & hyperglycaemia-induced Staphylococcus aureus load independent of effects on blood glucose. Thorax. E-Pub Ahead of print doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-203178
Baines, D.L. (2013) Kinases as targets for ENaC regulation. Hot Topics, Current Molecular Pharmacology. E-Pub Ahead of print CMP-EPUB-20130305-7
Yan HY, Roch-Philippe C, Hummler E, Baines DL, Isseroff RR (2013) The Epithelial Sodium Channel Mediates the Directionality of Galvanotaxis in Human Keratinocytes. J. Cell. Sci 126 (Pt 9):1942-51.
Garnett JP. Baker E.H. and Baines D.L. (2012) Sweet talk – new insights into the nature and importance of glucose transport in lung epithelium. Eur Respir J. 40(5):1269-76
Garnett JP, Nguyen TT, Moffatt JD, Pelham ER, Kalsi KK, Baker EH and Baines DL (2012) Pro-inflammatory mediators disrupt glucose homeostasis in airway surface liquid. J. Immunol. 2012 Jul 1;189(1):373-80. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200718. Epub 2012 May 23.
Tan CD, Smolenski RT, Harhun MI, Patel HK, Ahmed SG, Wanisch K, Yáñez-Muñoz RJ, Baines DL (2012). AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) - Dependent and -Independent Pathways Regulate Hypoxic Inhibition of Transepithelial Na(+) Transport Across Human Airway Epithelial Cells. Br J Pharmacol. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01993.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Kalsi KK, Baker EH, Fraser O, Chung Y-L, Mace OJ, Tarelli E, Philips BJ, Baines DL (2009). Glucose homeostasis across human airway epithelial cell monolayers: role of diffusion, transport and metabolism. Pflugers Arch. 457, 1061-1070.
Woollhead AM, Sivagnanasundaram J, Kalsi KK, Pucovsky V, Pellatt LJ, Scott JW, Mustard KJ, Hardie DG, and Baines DL (2007). Pharmacological activators of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase have different effects on Na+ transport processes across human lung epithelial cells. Brit. J. Pharm. 151(8):1204-15.
Woollhead AM & Baines DL (2006). Forskolin-induced cell shrinkage and apical translocation of functional EGFP-human ENaC in H441 lung epithelial cell monolayers. JBC, 281, 5158-5168.
Dr J Garnett.
Dr Cecelia Holmberg.
Miss Alexina Weekes.
Ms Maria Orogo-Wen.
Professor Deborah Baines has collaborated a number of researchers at St George's, in the UK and internationally based. These include:
Dr R Tarran (University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA)
Dr J Taylor (Astra Zeneca, Sweden)
Dr M Gray (Newcastle University)
Prof. W. Clauss (University of Giessen, Germany).
Dr M Althaus (University of Giessen, Germany).
Prof S Wilson (University of Durham)
Prof R Williams (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Dr M Dockrell (South West Thames Institute for Renal Research, St Helier)
Dr J Tregoning (Imperial College, London)
Prof J Pickup (King’s College, London)
Dr M Carew (Kingston University)
Prof E Baker, St George’s, University of London
Prof J Lindsey, St George’s, University of London
Medical Research Council, MICA:Evaluation of anti-diabetic drugs in the treatment of respiratory disease (With Astra Zeneca Mondal Sweden), 2013-2016, £594,767.
Wellcome Trust, Effect of inflammation and insulin on glucose homeostasis in airway epithelium (with E. Baker, B. Philips, K Kalsi), 2009-2013, £235,851.
SWAN Identification of molecular targets of flavinoids: a focus on polycystin-2 ion channels in renal epithelial cells (with R. Williams, M. Carew), 2012, £ 30,000
St George's Centre for Enterprise and Innovations Fund Development of in vivo and in vitro models of bacterial lung infection (with J. Tregoning, J. Lindsey), 2011-12, £ 14,600.
British Heart Foundation Contribution of Bestrophins to Ca2+-activated Cl- channels in vascular myocytes (with I. Greenwood), 2008-2011, £158,653.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Investigation of how activation of AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibits Na+ transport across H441 lung epithelial cells, 2007-2010, £272,837.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Development of breath glucose as a new pulmonary biomarker in Cystic Fibrosis (with E. Baker, P Jones), 2007-2010, £251,785.
Professor Baines is the course director for MRes in Biomedical Science and Respiration 1 module coordinator.