Nathan Baird PhD

Nathan Baird PhD

Interim Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry


BS, Chemistry and Spanish, Wheaton College

PhD, Chemistry, The University of Chicago

Postdoctoral Training, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Research Interests

  • Investigation of RNA folding/function and structure/function relationships
  • Development of novel high-throughput screening assays for targeting structured RNAs with small molecules
  • Identification of RNA-focused chemical scaffolds for the development of drug leads
  • Structural characterization of RNA-ligand interactions


New paradigms in RNA biology are rapidly emerging from reports of pervasive transcription and RNA structure across genomes.  Furthermore, decades of research demonstrate that RNA regulates many processes central to human health and disease.  However, RNA remains a disproportionately under-explored target for drug discovery and basic chemical biology research.  Progress in this area of biomedical research will require new interdisciplinary approaches at the forefront of chemistry and biology to identify and characterize RNA-small molecule interactions. 

Work in my lab employs a two-phase methodology.  First, we aim to develop new high-throughput screening assays for targeting structured RNAs with small molecules.  These assays identify ligands that modulate RNA conformational changes.  Second, we employ structural biology techniques to characterize RNA-ligand interactions, leading to the rational design of improved ligands.  Iterations of this cross-discipline approach will result in advances toward novel therapeutic leads and synthetic biology tools.

Lab website:
Chemistry Core Facility:

Selected Scholarly Activity

Fluorescence-based investigations of RNA-small molecule interactions. McGovern-Gooch KR, Baird NJ. Methods. 2019 Sep 1. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.05.017

A highly ordered, nonprotective MALAT1 ENE structure is adopted prior to triplex formation. Yonkunas MJ, Baird NJ. RNA. 2019 Aug. doi: 10.1261/rna.069906.118.

Strictinin, a novel ROR1-inhibitor, represses triple negative breast cancer survival and migration via modulation of PI3K/AKT/GSK3ß activity. Fultang N, Illendula A, Chen B, Wu C, Jonnalagadda S, Baird N, Klase Z, Peethambaran B. PLoS One. 2019 May 31. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217789.

Selective Small-Molecule Targeting of a Triple Helix Encoded by the Long Noncoding RNA, MALAT1. Abulwerdi FA, Xu W, Ageeli AA, Yonkunas MJ, Arun G, Nam H, Schneekloth JS Jr, Dayie TK, Spector D, Baird N, Le Grice SFJ. ACS Chem Biol. 2019 Feb 15 . doi: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00807.

Finely tuned conformational dynamics regulate the protective function of the lncRNA MALAT1 triple helix. Ageeli AA, McGovern-Gooch KR, Kaminska MM, Baird NJ. Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Feb 20. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1171.

Macrocycle peptides delineate locked-open inhibition mechanism for microorganism phosphoglycerate mutases. Yu H, Dranchak P, Li Z, MacArthur R, Munson MS, Mehzabeen N, Baird NJ, Battalie KP, Ross D, Lovell S, Carlow CK, Suga H, Inglese J. Nat Commun. 2017 Apr 3. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14932.

Structures to the People! Baird NJ, Leidel SA. Elife. 2015 Jul 8; 4:e09249. doi: 10.7554/eLife.09249.

Rapid RNA-ligand interaction analysis through high-information content conformational and stability landscapes. Baird NJ*, Inglese J, Ferré-D'Amaré AR. Nat Commun. 2015 Dec 7. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9898.    *corresponding author

Contact Information

Office location: Griffith Hall, Room 140A
Mailing address: Box #48, University of the Sciences
University of Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495
Office Phone: 215-596-7396

n [dot] baird [at] usciences [dot] edu