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Stanford Report, May 22, 2002

Baxter Lab opens its doors onto medical research


The medical center rolled out the red carpet to open the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Laboratory for Genetic Pharmacology last week. The lab, directed by Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and of molecular pharmacology, was established to study cellular, genetic and pharmacological approaches for novel drug design and delivery.

The Baxter Foundation is a longtime sponsor of research at Stanford, establishing the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Professorship of Pharmacology in 1972, which Blau has held since 1999. The Foundation was established by Delia Baxter in honor of her husband Donald, who pioneered the commercial preparation of intravenous solutions.

Helen Blau is joined by her husband, David Spiegel, MD, professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, and their son, Stanford undergraduate Daniel Spiegel, on the day of the opening event.

"I'd like to thank the endowment of the Baxter's and creativity of the dean to set up this entity," Blau said in the ceremony. "I am honored by the Baxter Foundation's generosity and support."

In his opening address, Phillip Pizzo, MD, dean of the medical school, said Donald Baxter's work "transformed the way we practice medicine and had a galvanizing impact on research."

Although research at the new Baxter lab is far removed from IV preparations, the foundation's president, Donald Haake, said that the lab embodies his grandfather's pioneering spirit.

"We hear a lot of adulation that we've done a lot of wonderful things, but we stand in awe of the people here at Stanford who are doing the wonderful things," Donald Haake said, with five of his family members nearby. He added, "I wish I could understand one quarter of what is going on here."

Research at the lab focuses on finding new ways to enhance cellular repair processes and enlisting the body's cells to fight disease. One example of this work is the recent finding that adult stem cells can rescue damaged tissues in the muscle and brain. Other research entails using high-throughput screens to discover new drug targets for HIV or autoimmune diseases; increasing blood vessels to rescue damaged heart muscle; or blocking blood vessel development to tumors.

The Baxter lab will consist of Blau and Gary Nolan, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of molecular pharmacology, plus an additional faculty member currently being recruited and about 50 students and staff housed in lab space in the Center for Clinical Sciences Research. The graduate students will work under one of the three Baxter lab professors but can get their degrees from a range of departments.

"The lab is the nucleus of a multidisciplinary program," Blau said. It will host meetings, retreats and a journal club for diverse labs across campus with related interests. "It is intellectually driven, crossing departmental boundaries," she added.

Stem cell symposium honors Herzenberg while exploring current trends (2/20/02)

Blau named Baxter professor of Pharmacology (4/28/99)