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Women's history month
MD/PhD student inspired by family struggles

This the third in a series of articles honoring MUSC women who have changed the face, landscape and direction of MUSC and the medical center. This year's theme is Women Taking the Lead.

by Melissa Lacas
Public Relations
Watching her grandmother struggle with a chronic disease inspired DeAnna Baker to pursue a life in medicine.
She was in middle school when her grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes.
DeAnna Baker

“I watched her struggle to go back and forth between doctors,” said Baker, a Baltimore native. “Through all of her struggles and difficulties, she managed to stay strong, but I could see her frustration.”
Baker, who had always had an interest in medicine, became determined to help people like her grandmother.
“I decided that I wanted to be the doctor and be someone who patients were able to talk to, and one who made patients comfortable,” she said.
After graduating cum laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baker came to MUSC as an MD/PhD student.
During the 2008 Perry V. Halushka Student Research Day, Baker won first place in the Ph.D. poster II category, and first place in the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Award. She has also been a member of the American Medical Association and the American Student Medical Association since 2004. Baker contributes her success to the many positive female role models that have surrounded her throughout her life.
“First and foremost is my mother,” Baker said. “I saw her take care of my brother and me on her own. She is a sweet lady and has a wonderful disposition, but she is also firm and tough when she needs to be. I also learned a lot from my aunt, who also was a single mother.”
Noting MUSC’s diverse campus, Baker has met a variety of people, including women who have families and careers.
“Here at MUSC, Dr. Lina Obeid and Dr. Wanda Gonsalves have been amazing role models since they give so much of themselves to the community,” Baker said. “All of my female friends at MUSC have been a wonderful support system and help to relieve the stress.”
As for her future, Baker wants to do both research and see patients.
“I realize that it may be hard to balance, but I want to follow my dreams,” Baker said.
Baker offers one piece of advice: “It is important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes to you.” Baker said. “You may not get everything that you apply for, but if you try your hardest, you’d be surprised at what goals you can achieve.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.