We create proteins that solve challenges in medicine, technology & sustainability.

We are a blend of visionary scientists and entrepreneurial thinkers. Rooted in a public university, we thrive on collaboration and are driven by a commitment to shape a healthier, sustainable tomorrow.

What is protein design?

Read our Beginner’s Guide

In nature, proteins harvest solar energy, manufacture molecules, and transform chemical energy into work. Our scientists draw inspiration from nature as we seek to design equally useful molecules from scratch.

By unlocking the power of proteins, we are setting the stage for a new wave of medicines and materials with previously unimagined functions — tapping into the full efficiency, scalability, and sustainability of biology.

Our Impact

Our work extends far beyond our labs. From launching successful startups to developing a licensed vaccine for COVID-19, our science is shaping tomorrow.

Our Mission

Natural proteins evolved over millions of years to solve the most complex challenges on Earth, but we face new and pressing challenges today. The goal of the Institute for Protein Design is to create a new world of synthetic proteins to address these challenges.

To achieve this, we are marshaling deep institutional strengths in our faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students as well as our partners from collaborating institutions, innovator networks, and from the computer and biotechnology industries. We are bringing extraordinary expertise to bear on a singular focus: to advance the potential of protein design.

What is protein design?

Proteins are the molecular machines that make all living things hum — they stop deadly infections, heal cells and capture energy from the sun. Yet because our basic understanding of how proteins work has until now remained a mystery, humans have only been able to harness the power of proteins by modifying ones we happen to find in nature.

Enabled by decades of basic research, the rise of inexpensive computing, and the genomics revolution in reading and writing DNA, we can now design new proteins from scratch with specific functions.

Our scientists have developed catalysts for chemical reactions, innovative vaccines, and experimental therapies for diseases including cancer and the flu.

Research Areas

Protein Therapeutics
Computer-generated molecules that block infection, capture toxins, reprogram cells, and more.

Next-Generation Vaccines
Highly stable and customizable vaccines for influenza, HIV, cancer, and beyond.

Advanced Drug Delivery
Nanoscale protein assemblies that move therapeutics and more to specific cells within the body.

Algorithm Development
Biomolecular modeling and computational design are at the heart of everything we do.

Biological Devices
Programmable switches, sensors and machines that function inside cells.

Self-Assembling Nanomaterials
Atomically precise materials with applications in solar energy, imaging and basic research.

Bioactive Peptides
Chemically synthesized molecules with predictable structures and functions.

We are headquartered in the Molecular & Nanoengineering and Sciences Buildings at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Designing Protein,
Shaping Tomorrow


Our royalty-free COVID-19 vaccine

A protein-based vaccine for COVID-19 that uses our self-assembling nanoparticle technology has been approved abroad. If approved by the World Health Organization, the vaccine will be made available through COVAX, an international effort to equitably distribute vaccines around the world.


A promising treatment for Celiac disease

KumaMax is an enzyme designed to treat Celiac disease. Research on it began as an undergraduate project in the Baker Lab and would go on to form the basis of a spinout company. Takeda Pharmaceuticals is now working to test KumaMax into the clinic.


Foldit: A video game for protein design

Computers are smart, but they sometimes miss important things. The same goes for researchers. This is where Foldit comes in: everyday people playing Foldit can help discover better protein designs through their unique creativity and ingenuity.