Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise - Professor Philip Baker


Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise

Professor Philip BakerUniversity of Leicester
University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH


Personal details

Undergraduate examinations

  • Studied at Nottingham University Medical School (1980-85)
  • 1983 B Med Sci (Honours) IIi, 1985 BM BS, 1991 DM

Postgraduate examinations

  • MRCOG 1990, FRCOG awarded Sept 2003
  • FRCSC 2009, FRANZCOG 2014

Other webpages

External Activities

Prizes and Awards

  • 1992 William Blair-Bell Memorial Lectureship
  • 1994 International Society for Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy: Young Investigator Award.
  • 2004 Sir William Liley Lecturer (Perinatal Research Society)
  • 2005 President’s Achievement Award of the Society of Gynecologic Investigation (The first time this award was made outside North America).
  • 2013 National Distinguished Professorship awarded by the Chinese Government
  • 2013 Chongqing Medical University: President’s Excellence award.
  • 2015 Chongqing Friendship Award (the highest honour the city can bestow a foreign citizen)

Commercialisation and Intellectual property strategy

Two companies have been established, to facilitate the development of clinically useful predictive/screening tests for pregnancy complications:

  • K2B Diagnostics: Registered from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, September 2010
  • Metabolomic Diagnostics: Registered from Cork, Ireland, May 2011

A PCT patent application for ‘The detection of risk of pre-eclampsia’ was filed in December 2010 (No. PCT/EP2010/070446); priority was claimed from US patent 61/288,465 which was filed in December 2009. The patent application includes 14 metabolites as individual prognostic variables of pre-eclampsia, and makes claims to combinations of key metabolites, which are likely to be employed in a prognostic product. (In addition, a provisional US patent relating to the detection of fetal growth restriction using metabolomic technologies was filed in November 2010).

A PCT International Application for ‘Myo-inositol and probiotics, and their use’ was filed under No PCT/EP2015/068192 in August 2015.

A European PCT application for ‘Vitamin B2 and its use’ was filed under No 15170906.0 in June 2015.

Medicolegal work

My medicolegal practice markedly reduced in 2009, on my departure for Canada, and has now ceased. I was providing approximately 50 medicolegal reports per annum (approx. 67% defendant, 33% claimant). I was a member of the St Paul International Insurance Company Medicolegal Advisory Board (1999-2001).


My track record is of building high calibre research groups:

In 1995, the research staff at the City Hospital division of the School of Human Development consisted of a technician and a research fellow. In five years, I established a critical mass of researchers; in 1999 my group had more abstracts accepted at the Society of Gynecologic Investigation (the major international scientific meeting within our speciality) than any other centre.

In March 2001, I moved to Manchester, to direct the newly established Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre. The centre acts as a major focus of obstetric research within the UK, and facilitates the training of clinical and scientific researchers within the speciality. Our research group in Manchester became the largest obstetric research group in Europe.

In 2007-8 I led the Manchester application for a National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre. The successful award of an NIHR Biomedical Research Centre status incorporated approximately £30 million funding from partner organisations including the Department of Health, the Northwest Development Agency, Manchester City Council and AstraZenica. I became the inaugural Director of the centre, which comprises three interlocking themes: Genetic and Developmental Medicine, Tissue Injury and Repair, and Experimental Therapeutics.

In 2009, I joined the perinatal investigators in the Department of Obstetrics, University of Alberta. Alberta is home to the Human Metabolome project – and I used expertise in metabolomics to develop screening tests for major pregnancy complications.

In 2012, I moved to the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. I have established a pregnancy research group with extensive international collaborations. Studies investigating pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction form major parts of my research portfolio. These major pregnancy complications are studied at a molecular, cellular, blood vessel and whole body level with each project interacting with and strengthening other projects. We have just been awarded NZ$40 million funding from a public good-industry partnership: to study the effect on gestational diabetes of a nutritional supplement administered prior to conception.

In 2013, I established a pregnancy research centre in Chongqing, China, with funding from the central and regional Chinese governments.

Since moving to Leicester in 2015, I have maintained my research endeavours in New Zealand and China, whilst supervising a small number of pregnancy projects.

Grants held (over the past 10 years)

I have been awarded grants totalling over £36 million for my own research portfolio. Grants from the Medical Research Council (MRC), the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust are currently held. I was previously the principal investigator of an MRC Development Grant and co-PI of an MRC programme grant and I am currently co-PI of an EU FP7 programme grant. The majority of these grants relate to the study of the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction.

I have personally led institutional research applications that have successfully accrued more than £50 million; several of these applications represented cross-faculty interdisciplinary initiatives.


My research Interests are focussed on the major pregnancy complications: preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, pre-term birth, and gestational diabetes.  These pregnancy complications are studied in range of different methodologies: molecular and cell culture studies; biomarker investigations using proteomic and metabolic technologies; ex-vivo studies and analyses of human tissues; and major clinical studies of screening tests and interventions. The portfolio of studies seek to better understand the aetiology and pathogenesis of important pregnancy complications, to investigate better methods of identifying and predicting those at risk, and the development of novel treatment strategies and therapies. The research programme is global, with research fellows/students working in China, Brazil, New Zealand and the UK.


Selected publications only. For full list see Google Scholar and PubMed. My H-index is 80.

  • Baker P.N., Johnson I.R., Gowland P.A., et. al.,  [1994] Accurate in-utero fetal weight estimation using echo-planar magnetic resonance imaging. Lancet 343, 644.
  • Baker P.N., Davidge S.T., Roberts J.M., [1995] Plasma from preeclamptic women increases endothelial cell nitric oxide production. Hypertension 26, 244.
  • Baker P.N., Davidge S.T., Roberts J.M., [1996] Plasma from preeclamptic women initially stimulates and then inhibits endothelial prostacyclin production. Hypertension 27, 56.
  • Smith S., Baker P.N., Symonds E.M., [1997] Human placental apoptosis.  Am. J Obstet Gynecol 177, 57.
  • Francis S.T., Duncan K.R., Moore R.W., Baker P.N., Johnson I.R., Gowland P.A., [1998] Non-invasive mapping of placental perfusion. Lancet. 351, 1397-1400.
  • Brockelsby J.C., Hayman R., Warren A.Y., Johnson I.R., Ahmed A., Baker P.N., [1999] VEGF mimics preeclamptic plasma in inhibiting bradykinin-induced relaxation of isolated pregnant myometrial vessels via VEGF-1. Lab Invest 79, 1101.
  • Hykin J., Duncan K.R., Baker P.N., Johnson I.R., Worthington B., Mansfield Sir P., Gowland P.A., [1999] The antenatal demonstration of fetal cortical activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Lancet. 354; 645-46
  • Hayman R., Warren A., Johnson I.R., Baker P.N. [2001] The preliminary characterisation of a vasoactive circulating factor in preeclampsia. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 184(6), 1196-203.
  • Crocker I.P., Cooper S., Ong S.C., Baker P.N., [2003] Differences in apoptotic susceptibility of cytotrophoblasts and syncytiotrophoblasts in normal pregnancy to those complicated with pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. Am J Path. 162(2):637-43.
  • Myers, J; Mires G; Macleod M; Baker PN [2005] In preeclampsia, the circulating factors capable of altering in vitro endothelial function precede clinical disease. Hypertension 45(2) 258-63
  • Wareing, MM.; Myers, J; O’Hara M; Baker, PN [2005] Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) enhances vasodilatation in fetal growth restriction. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90(5) 2550-5
  • Myers JE, Hart S, Armstrong S, Mires GJ et al, Baker PN, [2007] Evidence for multiple circulating factors in preeclampsia. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 196(3):266.e1-6.
  • Khashan AS, Abel KM, McNamee R, et al, Baker PN, Kenny LC, Mortensen PB. [2008] Higher risk of offspring schizophrenia following antenatal maternal exposure to severe adverse life events. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 65(2):146-52.
  • Robinson NJ, Wareing M, Hudson NK, Blakley RT, Baker PN, Aplin JD, Crocker IP. [2008] Oxygen and the liberation of placental factors responsible for vascular compromise. Lab Invest. 88(3):293-305.
  • Baker PN, Wheeler SJ, Sanders TA, et al. [2009] A prospective study of micronutrient status in adolescent pregnancy. Am J Clin Nutr. 89(4):1114-24.
  • Kenny LC, Broadhurst D, Brown M, et al Baker PN. [2010] Robust early prediction of later preeclampsia using metabolomic biomarkers. Hypertension, 56(4):741-9.
  • von Dadelszen P, Dwinnell S, Magee L, et al, Baker PN. [2011] Sildenafil citrate therapy for severe early-onset intrauterine growth restriction. Br J Obstet Gynaecol;118(5):624-628.
  • Stanley JL, Andersson IJ, Poudel R, Rueda-Clausen CF, Sibley CP, Davidge ST, Baker PN. Sildenafil Citrate Rescues Fetal Growth in the Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase Knockout Mouse Model. Hypertension. 2012 59(5):1021-8
  • Ganzevoort W, Alfirevic Z, von Dadelszen P, Kenny L, Papageorghiou A, van Wassenaer-Leemhuis A, Gluud C, Mol BW, Baker PN: Sildenafil therapy in dismal prognosis early-onset intrauterine growth restriction – a protocol for a systematic review with individual participant data and aggregate data meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis Systematic Reviews 2014, 3:23.
  • Sulek K, Han TL, Villas-Boas SG, Wishart DS, Soh SE, Kwek K, Gluckman PD, Chong YS, Kenny LC, Baker PN. Hair metabolomics: identification of fetal compromise provides proof of concept for biomarker discovery. Theranostics. 2014; 4:953-9.
  • Stanley JL, Sulek K, Andersson IJ, Davidge ST, Kenny LC, Sibley CP, Mandal R, Wishart DS, Broadhurst DI, Baker PN. Sildenafil Therapy Normalizes the Aberrant Metabolomic Profile in the Comt(-/-) Mouse Model of Preeclampsia/Fetal Growth Restriction. Sci Rep. 2015; 5:18241.

I have also written/edited 19 textbooks; undergraduate textbooks include the leading UK text: 'Obstetrics by Ten teachers' (This text book was 'Highly Commended' in the BMA 2007 book awards).  Amongst postgraduate texts are the definitive: 'MRCOG: an evidenced based text', books on pre-eclampsia, and the leading text on intrauterine growth restriction.


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