The Impact of the IPD

Founded in 2012, the Institute for Protein Design has trained hundreds of scientists at all levels, from high schoolers to visiting professors. Our trainees are now working independently in 17 countries, and our current collaborative projects now span 27 countries.

Rosetta, the core computer program that enables all of our research, was created in the Baker laboratory. The global community of Rosetta developers, known as the RosettaCommons, has grown by an average of 106 members annually since 2013. With 70 active commercial licenses and more than 30,000 active academic licenses, improvements to Rosetta automatically benefit a growing, global community of scientists.

We have enlisted volunteer citizen-scientists by developing Rosetta@Home, which allows anyone with a computer or smartphone to participate in our research. Our Rosetta software is now running calculations on nearly a billion computing devices worldwide, requiring ~10% of the UW’s internet bandwidth. Soon after we started the Rosetta@home project, contributors watching representations of origami-like protein folding calculations on their screens became curious themselves and wanted to see if they could help solve protein challenges. So we created Foldit, a multiplayer online game where thousands of volunteers compete to solve new protein folding puzzles—everything from the structure of viral proteins to cures for food poisoning.

FoldIt: Growth and player activity


We ask ourselves: If we design a new protein in the laboratory, how can that technology best serve humanity? For example, if we make proteins that slice up other proteins with precision, can we create an enzyme that degrades gluten and thereby prevents celiac disease? If we can design proteins that remain active at high temperatures, can we eliminate the need for refrigeration in the global vaccine supply chain? Or, if we can design protein switches, can we create new cell therapies that sense and respond to their surroundings? Naturally, every protein design breakthrough leads to the need to raise capital to pursue translational and commercialization efforts.

Since 2012, the Baker lab, David Baker, or IPD have contributed to eight biotechnology companies. These companies collectively raised more than $1 billion to advance downstream applications of protein design. These spinouts help ensure that the IPD’s breakthroughs translate into real-world impact.

  • Arzeda: protein design for synthetic biological production of valuable chemicals (Baker lab spinout).
  • Cyrus Biotechnology: Rosetta software as a cloud computing service for the biopharmaceutical industry (IPD spinout).
  • PvP Biologics: a gluten-busting enzyme for celiac disease (IPD spinout, acquired by Takeda Pharmaceuticals).
  • Virvio: designed proteins that block the flu virus (IPD spinout, no longer active).
  • Icosavax: new vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a deadly virus affecting newborns and the elderly, and more (IPD spinout).
  • Neoleukin Therapeutics: designed proteins that help the immune system fight cancer (IPD spinout).
  • A-Alpha Bio: changing the way that protein interactions are measured (Baker lab / Klavins lab spinout).
  • Sana Biotechnologyengineered cells as a new class of therapies outside the field of cancer (Baker, scientific co-founder).
  • Lyell Immunopharma: cell therapy for the treatment of cancer (Baker, scientific co-founder).
  • Outpace Bio: developing tools to steer cell behavior (Spinout from Lyell by former Baker lab members).


Hometowns of current IPD scientists

Map includes all scientific researchers, and staff of current IPD affiliate labs (Baker, King, DiMaio, Gu, Bradley, and IPD Core Labs)


Former Baker Lab members now faculty at other institutions

Former Baker lab postdocs or graduate students who are now faculty at other institutions worldwide.