Dr. Baehr’s career work addresses the bio-chemistry and molecular biology of the capture of light by photoreceptors in the eye (phototransduction), and the biochemistry of the key elements in that process (the Visual Cycle) with a focus on gene defects causative for human retinal disease. Dr. Baehr’s early research generated one of the first transgenic mouse models for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa, identified specific gene defects in several other animal models of human disease, and characterized key regulatory molecules in the phototransduction pathway. Dr. Baehr has published over 145 manuscripts covering topics in inorganic and organic chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, bacteriology, infectious disease and genetics.
At the Moran Eye Center, Dr. Baehr’s laboratory continues the hunt for genes implicated in blinding retinal degenerations using techniques from molecular biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology. In addition to the study of the 50-60 genes thought to be involved in rod and cone phototransduction, the laboratory is also tracking genes involved in the Visual Cycle. This pathway recycles nutritionally-derived Vitamin A aldehyde, the light-catching molecule or chromophore of photoreceptor cells, employing a complex export/import process between photoreceptors and the retinal pigmented epithelium.