Dr. John Baenziger

Dr. John Baenziger
Dr. John Baenziger
Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology

BSc, (Hons), Queen's University (1984)
PhD, University of Ottawa (1989)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School and Boston University (1989-1992)
Premier's Research Excellence Award
John Charles Polanyi Prize for Doctoral Research

Roger Guindon Hall, 4216 (office), 4215/4217 (lab)
613-562-5800 ext. 8222 (Office)
613-562-5800 ext. 8168 (Lab)


Dr. Baenziger received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Queen’s University in 1984, conducting research in the laboratories of both Drs. John Elce and Peter Davies.  It was during this time that he was first exposed to the field of biophysics.  This stimulated him to pursue a Ph.D. at the National Research Council of Canada with Dr. Ian C.P. Smith, a pioneer in the use of solid state NMR methods to study biological molecules and human disease.  Dr. Baenziger completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa in 1989.  Building on his acquired expertise, he undertook a postdoctoral fellowship jointly at Harvard Medical School and Boston University where he worked on the structural and functional characterization of ligand-gated ion channels.  In 1992, Dr. Baenziger joined the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa, where he is currently a full professor.

Research Interests

The Baenziger lab uses a variety of biophysical tools to study the structure and function of a superfamily of proteins, called pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs). These neurotransmitter receptors are found in pre-, post-, and non-synaptic membranes of the central and peripheral nervous system where they play a key role in both synaptic communication and information processing. They have been implicated in a variety of neurological processes and diseases, and are targets of numerous pharmaceuticals. The Baenziger lab is particularly interested in understanding how the activity of these receptors is modulated during both normal and abnormal brain function, with the goal of developing new strategies to correct the altered synaptic communication that occurs in diseased states.

The laboratory is well equipped with basic biochemical and electrophysiology equipment, the latter including rigs for both performing two-electrode voltage clamp and single channel measurements. Other equipment for protein production, purification, and characterization include Acta FPLC, cell culture incubators, microscopes, a DynaPro dynamic light scatterer, a Cary Eclipse fluorescence spectrometer, and FTIR spectrometers. The FTIR spectrometers are equipped with numerous data acquisition accessories, including standard ATR sampling accessories, a Golden Gate diamond ATR, and both manual and automated polarizers.

Current Administrative Positions

2015- : President of the Harvard Club of Ottawa
2014- : President of the Biophysical Society of Canada
2014- : Director of the Biochemistry Graduate Program
2014-2017: President of the Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences, Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (responsibilities include Chairing the commission, as well as membership on the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Executive, Council, Graduate Program Evaluation Committee, and Membership Committee)

Recent Publications

Research interests

  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
  • Pentameric ligand-gated ion channels
  • Synaptic efficiency
  • Membrane protein structure and function
  • Lipid-protein interactions
  • Biophysics
  • Electrophysiology
  • Biochemistry