James Barber (biochemist)

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James Barber
Jamesbarber icl.jpg
Born 16 July 1940 (1940-07-16) (age 77)
Nationality British
Alma mater University College, Swansea
University of East Anglia
Awards FRS (2005)
Scientific career
Fields Biochemist
Institutions Imperial College London

James Barber FRS FRSC (born 16 July 1940) is a Senior Research Investigator and Emeritus Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London, Visiting Professor Politecnico di Torino, POLITO (Italy) and Visiting Canon Professor to Nanyang Technological University, NTU (Singapore). He was educated at Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Boys, University College, Swansea (BSc) and at the University of East Anglia (MSc, PhD). He joined Imperial College in 1968, was made Reader in 1974, and was promoted to Full Professor in 1979. He was Dean of the Royal College of Science (1988-1989), and Head of the Biochemistry Department from 1989 to 1999.


Barber has published over 650 original research papers and reviews in the field of natural and artificial photosynthesis, editing 15 specialised books. The focus of his research has been the investigation of photosynthesis and the functional role of the photosystems with emphasis on their structures. Much of his work has focused on Photosystem II, a biological machine able to use light energy to split water into oxygen and reducing equivalents. In 2004, he reported the first fully refined X-ray structure of this enzyme. More recently, he has turned his attention from natural to artificial photosynthesis, collaborating with chemists, electrochemists and material scientists to develop artificial photosynthesis technology for solar fuel production. This work has been spurred by the establishment of the Solar Fuels Laboratory within the School of Material Sciences at NTU and of the Biosolar Laboratory within the Applied Science and Technology Department at the POLITO.

Honours and awards[edit]

Barber was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 1980 and a member of the European Academy Academia Europaea in 1989, became foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2003, and Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005.

James Barber was awarded the Flintoff Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2002, the Italgas/Eni Prize for Energy and the Environment in 2005, the Biochemical Society Novartis medal and prize in 2006, the Wheland Medal and Prize from the University of Chicago in 2007, the Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Medal and Prize in 2013, the Porter Medal, an international award for outstanding contributions to Photochemistry, in 2016, and the Communication Award of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research also in 2016. He has been awarded honorary doctorates of Stockholm University and University of East Anglia (2010). He has served as President of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research (2007-2010).

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