Photo of Isabelle Baconguis, Ph.D.

Isabelle Baconguis Ph.D.

  •      (503) 494-5899
    • Assistant Professor Vollum Institute
    • Assistant Scientist Vollum Institute
    • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Neuroscience Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences School of Medicine

Isabelle Baconguis graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Biochemistry in 2005. She remained at the University of Pennsylvania for two years studying glutamate receptors. She joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program at OHSU in 2007. During her doctoral research at the Vollum Institute, she studied acid sensing ion channels (ASICs), members of the superfamily of amiloride-sensitive and Na+-selective trimeric ion channels. Using a combination of x-ray crystallography and electrophysiology, she exploited toxin-dependent modulation of ASIC function to elaborate molecular mechanisms of gating, selectivity and ion channel block. She joined the Vollum Insitute as a Vollum fellow in 2013 and was promoted to assistant scientist in 2016.

The Baconguis lab is pursuing atomic-resolution mechanisms of sodium-selective and voltage-independent ion channels involved in a spectrum of processes ranging from synaptic transmission to regulation of salt homeostasis.

Areas of interest

  • x-ray crystallography and electrophysiology
  • cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM)
  • sodium channels
  • ion channels
  • channel assembly, channel gating, and ion selectivity
  • protein biochemistry
  • structural biology


  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Pennsylvania 2005
  • Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Oregon 2013

Honors and awards

  • NIH Director's Early Independence Award (2013-2018)
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, NIH (2011-2013)


Selected publications

  • "Structure of the human epithelial sodium channel by cryo-electron microscopy." eLife In:, Vol. 7, 09.25.2018, e39340.


  • "Evidence for a third sodium-binding site in glutamate transporters suggests an ion/substrate coupling model" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America August 3 2010
  • "Structural plasticity and dynamic selectivity of acid-sensing ion channelspider toxin complexes" Nature September 20 2012
  • "N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-dependent regulation of the glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid carrier 1" Journal of Biological Chemistry June 15 2007
  • "Fyn-mediated phosphorylation of NR2B Tyr-1336 controls calpain-mediated NR2B cleavage in neurons and heterologous systems" Journal of Biological Chemistry July 13 2007
  • "X-ray structure of acid-sensing ion channel 1-snake toxin complex reveals open state of a Na+-selective channel" Cell February 13 2014
  • "Screening and large-scale expression of membrane proteins in mammalian cells for structural studies" Nature Protocols November 27 2014
  • "Unanticipated parallels in architecture and mechanism between ATP-gated P2X receptors and acid sensing ion channels" Current Opinion in Structural Biology April 2013
  • "Architecture of fully occupied GluA2 AMPA receptor-TARP complex elucidated by cryo-EM" Nature July 1 2016
  • "Structure of the human epithelial sodium channel by cryo-electron microscopy" eLife September 25 2018

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