Associate Professor of Medicine, Research Scholar Track
Member UA Arizona Cancer Center
Director, UACC Flow Cytometry Shared Resource
Co-Director, Research, Education and Training, UACC
Dr. Baker is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Research Scholar Track) and a member UA Arizona Cancer Center. She is also the Director of the UACC Flow Cytometry Shared Service and the Co-Director of Research, Education and Training at UACC.
Dr. Baker investigates stress signaling pathways modulated by the tumor microenvironment with the goals of: 1.) contributing to the understanding of cancer biology, 2.) identifying new therapeutic opportunities to improve the efficacy of existing anti-cancer therapies, and 3.) identifying new therapeutic targets.
Dr. Baker also investigates how biomarkers of hypoxia and extracellular acidosis, two features of the tumor microenvironment, can be used to help predict and monitor response to therapies. One of Dr. Baker’s primary collaborators is Dr. Marty Pagel who has developed a non-invasive imaging method called acidoCEST magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that can quantitatively measure the extracellular pH in tissue. Together, they are investigating the relationship of extracellular pH with tumor oxygenation and cellular metabolism. Their studies suggested that acidoCEST MRI may be an early biomarker of response to metabolically targeted anti-cancer therapies. They are investigating this hypothesis in breast cancers and lymphoma.
Rational Drug Combinations – Strategies to Modulate the Tumor Microenvironment
Many tumors demonstrate significant molecular and microenvironmental heterogeneity. For example, only a small fraction of a tumor may be hypoxic or only a small percentage of a tumor may harbor a mutation in a gene that confers a survival advantage. Unfortunately, this heterogeneity can contribute to intrinsic and/ or acquired resistance to therapy. Dr. Baker is investigating novel combinations of molecularly targeted anti-cancer agents to overcome resistance conferred by a “hypoxic” tumor phenotype. She is performing these studies in human cell line models of lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.
1. Block KM, Hanke NT, Maine EA and Baker AF. IL-6 stimulates STAT3 and Pim-1 kinase in pancreatic cancer cell lines. 2012 (Jul) Pancreas. PMCID: PMC3337960
2. Liu Q, Sun JD, Wang J, Ahluwalia D, Baker AF, Cranmer LD, Ferraro D, Wang Y, Duan JX, Ammons WS, Curd JG, Matteucci MD and Hart CP. TH-302, a hypoxia-activated prodrug with broad in vivo preclinical combination therapy efficacy: optimization of dosing regimens and schedules. 2012 (Jun) Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. PMID 22382881
3. Cardenas-Rodriguez J, Li Y, Galons JP, Cornnell H, Gillies RJ, Pagel MD and Baker AF. Imaging biomarkers to monitor response to the hypoxia-activated prodrug TH-302 in the MiaPaCa2 flank xenograft model. 2012 (May) Mag Reson Imaging. PMCID: PMC3402593
4. Baker AF, Adab KN, Raghunand N, Chow HH, Stratton SP, Squire SW, Boice M, Pestano LA, Kirkpatrick DL, Dragovich T. A phase 1B trial of 24-hour intravenous PX-12, a thioredoxin-1 inhibitor, in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancers. Invest New Drugs. 2013 (June) (3):631-41. PMID: 22711542
5. Baker AF, Roe DJ, Laughren C, Cohen JL, Wright HM, Clouser MC, Ciu H, Alberts DS, Chambers SK. Investigation of bendamustine HCL in a phase 2 study in women with resistant ovarian cancer. Invest New Drugs 2013 (Feb) 31(1):160-6 PMID: 22580577
6. Yoo B, Sheth VR, Howison CM, Douglas MJ, Pineda CT, Maine EA, Baker AF, Pagel MD. Detection of in vivo enzyme activity with CatalyCEST MRI. Magn Reson Med. 2013 (May) PMID: 23640714
7. Zhang X, Pagel MD, Baker AF, Gilies RJ. Reproducibility of magnetic resonance perfusion imaging. PLoS One 2014 (Feb) 25:9(2) PMID: 24587040
8. Chen LQ, Howison CM, Spier C, Stopeck AT, Malm SW, Pagel MD, Baker AF. Assessment of carbonic anhydrase IX expression and extracellular pH in B-cell lymphoma cell line models. Leuk Lymphoma 2014 Nov 10:1-8 PMID 25130478
Recipient of the Margaret E. and Fenton L. Maynard Endowment for Translational Breast Research