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Horace Barker

Horace Albert "Nook" Barker (November 29, 1907 – December 24, 2000) was an American biochemist and microbiologist who studied the operation of biological and chemical processes in plants, humans and other animals, including using radioactive tracers to determine the role enzymes play in synthesizing sucrose. He was recognized with the National Medal of Science for his role in identifying an active form of Vitamin B12.


  • Early life and education 1
  • University of California 2
  • Personal 3
  • References 4
  • Research resources 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Barker was born on November 29, 1907 in Oakland, California. He moved with his family to Palo Alto, California when he was 11 years old. He spent a year in Germany following high school, learning the German language and absorbing its culture. He attended Stanford University, graduating in 1929 with a bachelor's degree in physical science, and was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1933.[1]

After graduating from Stanford, he performed a two-year postgraduate fellowship at the Netherlands under Albert Kluyver.[1]

University of California

Barker was hired in 1936 by the University of California, Berkeley to teach soil microbiology. He was part of a team that developed the use of Carbon-14 as a radioactive tracer, using the technique in 1944 to show how sucrose is synthesized in living cells by enzymes.[2]

Research led by Barker during the 1950s provided insights into the uses of vitamin B12 in the body using bacterium he had isolated from mud taken from [3]

When the department of biochemistry was established in 1959, he was named as a professor there. He served as the department's chairman in the 1960s, and continued work there for more than a decade after retiring in 1975 when he became an emeritus professor. In 1953, he was elected a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.[4] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1967.[5]


A resident of Berkeley, California, Barker died at age 93 on December 24, 2000, due to heart failure at his home there. He was survived by two daughters, a son and four grandchildren. He had been married for 62 years to his wife, the former Margaret McDowell, at the time of her death in 1995.[2]


  1. ^ a b Ballou, Clinton E. "Horace Albert Barker, Biochemistry: Berkeley", University of California. Accessed July 20, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang. "Horace Barker, 93, Scientist Who Studied Body Chemistry", The New York Times, January 10, 2001. Accessed July 20, 2009.
  3. ^ The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details - H.A. Barker, National Science Foundation. Accessed July 20, 2009.
  4. ^ "H. A. Barker". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 

Research resources

External links

  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
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