Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Associate Professor Murray Baker

Position: Associate Professor in Chemistry

Affiliation: University of Western Australia, Department of Chemistry

Postal Address:
University of Western Australia
Department of Chemistry
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009

Phone: +61 (08) 9380 2576

Research Profile

Murray Baker is currently Associate Professor in Chemistry at The University of Western Australia, and has been at that institution since 1990. His research experience includes periods at The University of Saskatchewan (June-Aug 1999, bioinorganic chemistry), The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (June-Aug 1997, Aug-Sept 1999, surface and polymer chemistry), and The University of Houston (Nov-Dec 1999, surface chemistry), postdoctoral work at Harvard University (1988-1990, surface chemistry, materials chemistry, catalysis), and employment as a research scientist at ICI Australia Biologicals Group (1987-1988). He has been a chief investigator on research grants totalling over $1.8M and has successfully supervised 24 Honours students and 7 PhD students. Currently he heads a group that includes three postdoctoral researchers, four PhD students and two honours students, working in various aspects of bioinorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry and organic synthesis.

Professor Baker has broad experience in synthetic chemistry, particularly organometallic and coordination chemistry, both of which are key areas in the study of metals in medicine. In organometallic chemistry he has undertaken major research programs on transition metal phosphine systems and transition metal complexes of heterocyclic carbenes. His experience in these areas forms a strong foundation for his current collaboration with Prof Sue Berners-Price, investigating gold phosphine and carbene complexes as anti-mitochondrial agents. In collaboration with Prof Heinz-Bernard Kraatz (who holds a Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials and is based at the University of Saskatchewan), Baker employed his synthetic skills in an investigation of a novel series of ferrocenyl peptides. (Prof Kraatz will visit Baker's laboratory during September-December 2004 to pursue further collaboration in bioinorganic chemistry and biomaterials.) In coordination chemistry, Baker has worked extensively with transition metal complexes of various aza-macrocycles, and his contributions include pioneering work with triazacyclohexanes and studies of triazacyclononanes that culminated in a new class of organometallic cage complex. Detailed NMR and (in collaboration with Prof Allan White) X-ray diffraction studies to probe aspects of metal ion coordination and reactivity in both the solid state and solution are features of Baker's research in these programs.

Baker has also applied his synthetic skills to various areas of surface chemistry and in this area of research has used a broad range of surface analysis techniques, such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, FTIR, ellipsometry and wettability studies.

Selected Publications

  1. P. J. Barnard, M. V. Baker, B. W. Skelton, A. H. White and S. J. Berners-Price, "Synthesis and biological activities of some new gold(I)-carbene complexes: potential antimitochondrial antitumour agents." J. Inorg. Biochem. 2003, 96, 99.
  2. R. Michalitsch, G. K. Jennings, S. Takami, M.V. Baker, and P.E. Laibinis, "Functionalization of Underpotentially Deposited Metal Layers with Organics, Metals, and Ions." In: "Thin Films: Preparation, Characterization, Applications", M.P. Soriaga and J.L. Stickney, Eds., Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, 2002. Chapter 5 (p 69-81).
  3. M.V. Baker, B.W. Skelton, A.H. White and C.C. Williams, "Synthesis and characterization of a saddle-shaped nickel-carbene complex derived from an imidazolium-linked meta-cyclophane." Organometallics 2002, 21, 2674-2678.
  4. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "Formation of a caged rhodium complex via an intramolecular metal-mediated [2+2+1] cycloaddition of alkynes and CO." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 2002, 2595-2596.
  5. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "An investigation into alkenyl-functionalised 1,4,7-triazacyclononanes: synthesis, metal complexation and attempted olefin metathesis." Aust. J. Chem., 2002, 55, in press.
  6. M.V. Baker, B.W. Skelton, A.H. White and C.C. Williams, "Palladium carbene complexes derived from imidazolium-linked ortho-cyclophanes." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 2001, 111-120.
  7. M.V. Baker, H.-B. Kraatz and J.W. Quail, "Solvent effects on the redox properties of ferrocenoyl-dipeptides." New J. Chem. 2001, 427-433.
  8. T.B. Issa, P. Singh, M. Baker and B.S. Verma, "1,1'-Bis(11-mercaptoundecyl)ferrocene for potentiometric sensing of H+ ion in sulphuric acid media simulating lead acid battery electrolyte." J. Appl. Electrochem. 2001, 31, 921-924.
  9. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, N. Sommers, and A.H. White, "A Stable Copper(I)-Triazacyclononane Complex with an Intramolecularly-Coordinated Alkyne Group." Organometallics 2001, 20, 2161-2166.
  10. M.V. Baker, L. Jinzhen, T.B. Issa, P. Singh, and J. Strauch, "Synthesis and Electrochemical Characterisation of Vinylferrocene-Propylene Sulfide-Graft Copolymers." Aust. J. Chem. 2001, 54, 361-366.
  11. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "Group 6 metal complexes of 1,3,5-tri(4-pentynyl)-1,3,5-triazacyclohexane." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 2000, 763-768.
  12. M.V. Baker, G.K. Jennings, and P.E. Laibinis, "Underpotentially Deposited Copper Promotes Self-Assembly of Alkanephosphonate Monolayers on Gold Substrates." Langmuir 2000, 16, 3288-3293.
  13. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "Intramolecular hydroamination of 1,4,7-tri(pent-4-yn-1-yl)-1,4,7-triazacyclononane: formation of an azoniaspiro[4.8]tridecane." Aust. J. Chem. 2000, 53, 791-797.
  14. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "An investigation of 1,4,7-tri(4-alkynyl)-1,4,7-triazacyclononanes: ligand synthesis and metal co-ordination chemistry." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 2000, 4607-4616.
  15. M.V. Baker, M.C. Palermo, B.W. Skelton and A.H. White, "Titanium(IV) Imido Complexes of 1,3,5-Trialkyl-1,3,5-triazacyclohexanes." Aust. J. Chem. 1999, 52, 179-183.
  16. M.V. Baker, D.H. Brown, B.W. Skelton and A.H. White, "Chromium complexes of hydroxyl-functionalised 1,3,5 triazacyclohexanes." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 1999, 1483-1490.
  17. M.V. Baker, M.R. North, B.W. Skelton and A.H. White, "Oxidations of [(R3tach)M(CO)3] Complexes [M = Cr, Mo, W; R3tach = 1,3,5-Trialkyl-1,3,5,-triazacyclohexane (R = t-Bu, Bn)]. Crystal Structures of (t-Bu3tach)MO3.15H2O (M = Mo, W)." Inorg. Chem. 1999, 38, 4515-4521.
  18. M.V. Baker, M.J. Bosnich, C.C. Williams, B.W. Skelton and A.H. White, "Imidazolium-linked cyclophanes." Aust. J. Chem. 1999, 52, 823-825. (Rapid communication.)
  19. M.V. Baker and L.D. Field, "Cyclometallation reactions in the Fe(DPrPE)2 System {DPrPE = 1,2-bis[di(n-propyl)phosphino]ethane}." Aust. J. Chem. 1999, 52, 1005-1011.
  20. N.L. Armanasco, M.V. Baker, M.R. North, B.W. Skelton, and A.H. White, "A comparative investigation of the group 6 (Cr, Mo, W) metal carbonyl complexes of 1,3,5 triazacyclohexanes." J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 1998, 1145-1149.


Baker's lab has excellent facilities for organic, organometallic, and inorganic synthesis, including glove boxes for air-sensitive work. In addition, the lab houses instrumentation for surface chemistry, including: a thermal evaporator (for deposition of clean metal films, eg Au); a contact angle goniometer; and an FTIR spectrometer with grazing incidence attachment and high-sensitivity MCT detector for surface analysis.

The group has access to:

  • excellent facilities for NMR spectroscopy, including 500 and 600 MHz spectrometers and triple resonance probes for C, H, N and H, P, X.
  • state-of-the-art microscopy, a including confocal laser microscope, a multiphoton confocal microscope, field emission and transmission electron microscopes, nano-SIMS (imaging and elemental mapping to nanometre resolution), and a scanning probe microscope (all through UWA's Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis).
  • outstanding facilities for crystallography (through Prof AH White and Dr BW Skelton).
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (with imaging capabilities to micron resolution) (through collaboration with Prof S Thurgate, Murdoch University).

International Linkages

Prof Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
Prof T Randall Lee (University of Houston, USA)
Prof Paul E Laibinis (Rice University, USA)
Prof Kingsley J Cavell (Cardiff University, UK)