Isabelle Baconguis, Ph.D.
Assistant Scientist and Principal Investigator
Baconguis is a structural biologist. Her lab is exploring the molecular underpinnings of whole-body salt balance to better understand diseases such as hypertension, a condition that affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. She is shown here with the FEI Titan Krios™ Cryo-Transmission Electron Microscope, which captures high-resolution images of macromolecules.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer, as a scientist. I wasn’t one of those kids who was doing experiments at age 8. I always thought I would be a fighter pilot, actually. But once I got glasses, that vision faded! During my school years, I found that the more I was exposed to science, the more questions I had.
“I am now what’s called an early independent investigator, because I skipped postdoctoral training and am leading my own research. My lab looks at the structure of epithelial sodium channels. This is unchartered territory in biomedical science. My hope is that once we know what these channels look like, we can better target drugs for conditions like hypertension.
“Basic science can be slow, but the fundamental discoveries we make in the lab are the building blocks of every drug you have ever heard of. Basic scientists are hard-working people. Being smart helps, but that’s not enough. You have to have a stubborn streak.”