James Barber (biochemist)

James Barber FRS FRSC MAE (16 July 1940 — 5 January 2020) was a British senior research investigator and emeritus Ernst Chain professor of biochemistry at Imperial College London, Visiting Professor at the Polytechnic University of Turin and Visiting Canon Professor to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

Jim Barber

Jim portrait like photo.png
Born(1940-07-16)16 July 1940
Died5 January 2020(2020-01-05) (aged 79)
Alma materUniversity College, Swansea
University of East Anglia
Scientific career
InstitutionsImperial College London
Polytechnic University of Turin
Nanyang Technological University
Doctoral advisorJack Dainty[1]
Doctoral studentsJames Robert Durrant[2]


He was educated at Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Boys,[citation needed] University College, Swansea (BSc)[citation needed][when?] and at the University of East Anglia (MSc, PhD).[when?]

Research and careerEdit

Barber 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.

Teaching and mentoringEdit

Post-graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who have followed research/academic careers include:

• Y.J. Shieh [3] • Alison Telfer[4] • John D. Mills[5] • Geoffrey F.W. Searle[6] • Herbert Y. Nakatani[7] • Wah Soon Chow[8] • Yasuhusi Yamamoto[9] • Lars F. Olsen David[10] • N.H. Horler[11] • Roy W. Mansfield[12] • Robert C. Ford[13] • Michael Hodges[14] • Paul A. Millner[15] • Kleoniki Gounaris[16] • Julian Whitelegge[17] • Peter J. Nixon[18] • Mary Blackwell[19] • Rowan A.C. Mitchell[20] • Maria T. Giardi[21] • William R. Newell[22] • Jonthan B. Marder[23] • Paula Booth[24] • James Durrant[25] • Roberto Barbato[26] • Cathy A. Shipton[27] • Wei-Zong He[28] • Javier De Las Rivas[29] • Markella Ponticos[30] • Zi-Hong Zhang[31] • Frank Vacha[32] • Joseph Komenda[33] • Judith Klien-Seetharaman[34] • Edward P. Morris[35] • Jyoti Choudhary (nee Sharma) [36] • Ben Hankamer[37] • Lucia Catucci[38] • Giulia Friso[39] • Lazlo Nagy[40] • Daniella Zheleva[41] • Maria Dalla Chiesa[42] • Maria Bianchetti[43] • Wolfgang Dörner[44] • Maria Carradus[45] • Christoph Gerle[46] • Jon Nield[47] • Claudia Büchel[48] • Thomas Bibby[49] • Paula Da Fonseca[50] • Joanna Kargul[51] • James W. Murray[52] • Karim Maghlaoui[53] • Phong D. Tran[54] • Cristina Pagliano[55]

Honours and awardsEdit

Barber was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 1980[citation needed] and a Member of the Academia Europaea (MAE) in 1989,[citation needed] became Selby Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1995, Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2003, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2005.[56]

He has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Stockholm in 1992, the University of East Anglia in 2010 and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore in 2017.

He was awarded the Flintoff Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2002,[57] the ENI award for Energy and the Environment in 2005,[citation needed] the Biochemical Society Novartis medal and prize in 2006,[citation needed] the Wheland Medal and Prize from the University of Chicago in 2007,[citation needed] the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Interdisciplinary Medal and Prize in 2013,[citation needed] the Porter Medal, an international award for outstanding contributions to Photochemistry in 2016,[58] and the Communication Award of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research also in 2016.[citation needed] In 2019 he received the 2020 Heatley Medal and Award from the Biochemical Society.[59] He served as President of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research from 2007 to 2010.


  1. ^ Barber, James. (2004). Engine of Life and Big Bang of Evolution: A Personal Perspective. Photosynthesis research. 80. 137-55. doi:10.1023/B:PRES.0000030662.04618.27
  2. ^ Durrant, James Robert (1991). Transient absorption spectroscopy of photosystem two. spiral.imperial.ac.uk (PhD thesis). Imperial College London. hdl:10044/1/11455. OCLC 855696059. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.573962.  
  3. ^ Barber, J. and Shieh, Y.J. (1973) Sodium transport in Na-rich Chlorella cells. Planta 111, 13-22
  4. ^ Telfer, A. and Barber, J. (1974) Two fold effect of valinomycin on isolated spinach chloroplasts: uncoupling and inhibition of electron transport. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 333, 343-352
  5. ^ Mills, J.D. and Barber, J. (1978) Fluorescence changes in isolated broken chloroplasts and the involvement of the electrical double layer. Biophys. J. 21, 257-272
  6. ^ Searle, G.F.W. and Barber, J. (1978) The involvement of the electrical double layer in the quenching of 9-aminoacridine fluorescence by negatively charged surfaces. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 502, 309-320
  7. ^ Nakatani, H.Y. and Barber, J. (1980) Further studies of thylakoid membrane surface charges by particle electrophoresis. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 591, 82-91
  8. ^ Chow, W.S. and Barber, J. (1980) 9-Aminoacridine fluorescence changes as a measure of surface charge density of thylakoid membranes. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 589, 346-352
  9. ^ Yamamoto, Y. and Barber, J. (1981) Measurement of degree of chlorophyll fluorescence polarization in relation to the regulation of excitation energy transfer between PSI and PSII in pea chloroplasts. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 637, 224-230
  10. ^ Olsen, L., Telfer, A. and Barber, J. (1981) Kinetics of the electrochromic shift, proton release and cytochrome redox changes in cyclic electron flow studied by flash spectroscopy. In: Photosynthesis, Vol.1, Photophysical Processes - Membrane Energization, (Akoyunoglou, G., ed.) Balaban Int. Sci. Serv. Philadelphia, P.A. 479-488
  11. ^ Horler, D.N.H., Barber, J. and Barringer, A.R. (1980) Effects of heavy metals on the absorbance and reflectance spectra of plants. Int. J. Remote Sensing 1, 121-136
  12. ^ Mansfield, R.W. and Barber, J. (1982) Manganese levels associated with inside-out thylakoid membranes in relation to oxygen evolution. FEBS Lett. 140, 165-168
  13. ^ Ford, R.C. and Barber, J. (1983) Time-dependent decay and anisotropy of fluorescence from diphenyl hexatriene embedded in the chloroplast thylakoid membrane. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 722, 341-348
  14. ^ Hodges, M. and Barber, J. (1983) State 1-State 2 transitions in a unicellular green algae: analysis of in vivo chlorophyll fluorescence induction curves in the presence of DCMU. Plant Physiol. 72, 1119-1122
  15. ^ Millner, P.A. and Barber, J. (1984) Plastoquinone as a mobile redox carrier in the photosynthetic membrane. FEBS Lett. 169, 1-6
  16. ^ Gounaris, K. and Barber, J. (1985) Isolation and characterisation of a photosystem II reaction centre lipoprotein complex. FEBS Lett. 188, 68-72
  17. ^ Telfer, A., Whitelegge, J.P., Bottin, H. and Barber, J. (1986) Changes in the efficiency of P700 photooxidation in response to protein phosphorylation detected by flash absorption spectroscopy. J. Chem. Soc. Faraday Trans. 2, Special Issue 82, 2207-2215
  18. ^ Nixon, P.J., Barber, J. and Hunter, C.N. (1986) Immunological evidence for the presence of the D1 and D2 proteins in PSII cores of higher plants. FEBS Lett. 209, 83-86
  19. ^ Blackwell, M.F., Gounaris, K. and Barber, J. (1986) Evidence that pyrene excimer formation in membranes is not diffusion-controlled. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 858, 221-234
  20. ^ Mitchell, R.A.C. and Barber, J. (1986) Adaptation of photosynthetic electron transport rate to growth temperature in pea. Planta 169, 429-436
  21. ^ Giardi, M.T., Marder, J.B. and Barber, J. (1988) Herbicide binding to the isolated photosystem two reaction centre. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 934, 64-71
  22. ^ Newell, W.R., van Amerongen, H., van Grondelle, R., Aalberts, J.W., Drake, A.F., Udvarhelyi, P. and Barber, J. (1988) Spectroscopic characterisation of the reaction centre of photosystem two from higher plants. FEBS Lett. 228, 162-166
  23. ^ Marder, J.B. and Barber, J. (1989) The molecular anatomy and function of thylakoid proteins. Plant, Cell and Environ. 12, 595-614
  24. ^ Booth, P.J., Crystall, B., Giorgi, L.B., Barber, J., Klug, D.R. and Porter, G. (1990) Thermodynamic properties of D1/D2/cyt b-559 reaction centres investigated by time- resolved fluorescence measurements. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1016, 141-152
  25. ^ Durrant, J.R., Giorgi, L.B., Barber, J., Klug, D.R. and Porter, G. (1990) Characterisation of triplet states in isolated photosystem II reaction centres: oxygen quenching as a mechanism for photodamage. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1017, 167-175
  26. ^ Barbato, R., Shipton, C.A., Giacometti, G.M. and Barber, J. (1991) New evidence suggests that the initial photoinduced cleavage of the D1-protein may not occur near the PEST sequence. FEBS Lett. 290, 162-166
  27. ^ Shipton, C.A. and Barber, J. (1991) Photoinduced degradation of the D1 polypeptide in isolated reaction centers of photosystem II: Evidence for an autoproteolytic process triggered by the oxidizing side. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 88, 6691-6695
  28. ^ He, W.-Z., Newell, W.R., Haris, P.I, Chapman, D. and Barber, J. (1991) Protein secondary structure of the isolated photosystem two reaction centre and conformational changes studied by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. Biochemistry 30, 4552-4559
  29. ^ Barber, J. and De Las Rivas, J. (1993) A functional model for the role of cytochrome b559 in the protection against donor and acceptor side photoinhibition. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90, 10942-10946
  30. ^ De Las Rivas, J., Shipton, C.A., Ponticos, M. and Barber, J. (1993) Acceptor side mechanism of photo-induced proteolysis of the D1 protein in photosystem II reaction centres. Biochemistry 32, 6944-6950
  31. ^ Zhang, Z.-H., Mayes, S.R., Vass, I., Nagy, L. and Barber, J. (1993) Characterisation of the psbK locus of Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 in terms of photosystem II function. Photosyn. Res. 38, 369-377
  32. ^ Vacha, F., Joseph, D.M., Durrant, J.R., Telfer, A., Klug, D.R., Porter, G. and Barber, J. (1995) Photochemistry and spectroscopy of a five chlorophyll reaction center of PSII isolated using a Cu-affinity column. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 92, 2929-2933
  33. ^ Komenda, J. and Barber, J. (1995) Comparison of psbO and psbH deletion mutants of Synechocystis PCC 6803 indicate that degradation of D1 protein is regulated by the QB site and is dependent on protein synthesis. Biochemistry 34, 9625-9631
  34. ^ Klein, J., De Las Rivas, J. and Barber, J. (1995) Indirect reduction of cytochrome b559 in isolated reaction centres of PSII by exogenous flavins. Bioelectrochem. Bioenergetics 38, 9-14
  35. ^ Morris, E.P., Hankamer, B., Zheleva, D., Friso, G. and Barber, J. (1997) The 3-D structure of a photosystem II core complex determined by electron crystallography. Structure 5, 837-849
  36. ^ Sharma, J., Panico, M., Barber, J. and Morris, H.R. (1997) Purification and determination of the molecular mass by electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry of the PSII D1 and D2 subunits. J. Biol. Chem. 272, 33153-33157
  37. ^ Hankamer, B., Nield, J., Zheleva, D., Boekema, E.J., Jansson, S. and Barber, J. (1997) Isolation and biochemical characterisation of monomeric and dimeric PSII complexes from spinach and their relevance to the organisation of photosystem II in vivo. Eur. J. Biochem. 243, 422-429
  38. ^ Catucci, L., Dörner, W., Nield, J., Hankamer, B., Vass, I. and Barber, J. (1998) Isolation and characterisation of oxygen evolving photosystem II core complexes from spinach in the presence of glycine betaine. In: Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Effects (Ed. Garab, G.) Vol. II. pp 973-976, Kluwer Academic Publ., Dordrecht, The Netherlands
  39. ^ Barbato, R., Friso, G., Ponticos, M. and Barber, J. (1995) Characterisation of light-induced cross-linking of the alpha-subunit of cytochrome b559 and the D1 protein in isolated PSII reaction centres. J. Biol. Chem. 270, 24032-24037
  40. ^ Nagy, L., Bálint, E., Barber, J., Ringler, A., Cook, K.M. and Maróti, P. (1995) Photoinhibition and law of reciprocity in photosynthetic reactions of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. J. Plant Physiol. 145, 410-415
  41. ^ Zheleva, D., Hankamer, B. and Barber, J. (1996) Heterogeneity and pigment composition of isolated PSII reaction centers. Biochemistry 35, 15074-15079
  42. ^ Chiesa, M.D., Friso, G., Déak, Z., Vass, I., Barber, J. and Nixon, P.J. (1997) Reduced turnover of the D1 polypeptide and photoactivation of electron transfer in novel herbicide resistant mutants of Synechocystis sp PCC 6803. Eur. J. Biochem. 248, 731-740
  43. ^ Bianchetti, M., Zheleva, D., Deak, Z., Zharmuhamedov, S., Klimov, V.V., Nugent, J.H.A., Vass, I. and Barber, J. (1998) Comparison of the functional properties of the monomeric and dimeric forms of the isolated CP47-RC complex. J. Biol. Chem. 273, 16128-16133
  44. ^ Catucci, L., Dörner, W., Nield, J., Hankamer, B., Vass, I. and Barber, J. (1998) Isolation and characterisation of oxygen evolving photosystem II core complexes from spinach in the presence of glycine betaine. In: Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Effects (Ed. Garab, G.) Vol. II. pp 973-976, Kluwer Academic Publ., Dordrecht, The Netherlands
  45. ^ Schilstra, M.J., Nield, J., Dörner, W., Hankamer, B., Carradus, M., Barter, L.M.C., Barber, J. and Klug, D.R. (1999) Similarity between electron donor side reactions in solubilised PSII-LHCII supercomplexes and PSII containing membranes. Photosynth. Res. 60, 191-198
  46. ^ Kruse, O., Hankamer, B., Konczak, C., Gerle, C., Morris, E., Radunz, A., Schmid, G.H. and Barber, J. (2000) Phosphatidyl glycerol is involved in the dimerization of photosystem II. J. Biol. Chem. 275, 6509-6514
  47. ^ Nield, J., Orlova, E., Morris, E., Gowen, B., van Heel, M. and Barber, J. (2000) 3D map of the plant photosystem two supercomplex obtained by cryoelectron microscopy and single particle analysis. Nature Structural Biology 7, 44-47
  48. ^ Büchel, C., Morris, E., Orlova, E. and Barber, J. (2001) Localisation of the PsbH subunit in PSII – a new approach using labelling of His-tags with a Ni2+-NTA-gold cluster and single particle analysis. J. Mol. Biol. 312, 371-379
  49. ^ Bibby, T., Nield, J. and Barber, J. (2001) Iron deficiency induces the formation of an antenna ring around trimeric photosystem I in cyanobacteria. Nature 412, 743-745
  50. ^ Da Fonseca, P., Morris, E.P., Hankamer, B. and Barber, J. (2002) Electron crystallographic study of photosystem II of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus. Biochemistry 41, 5163-5167
  51. ^ Kargul, J., Nield, J. and Barber, J. (2003) 3D reconstruction of a PSI-LHCI supercomplex from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii: insights into light harvesting for PSI. J. Biol. Chem. 278, 16135-16141
  52. ^ Murray, J.W. and Barber, J (2007) Structural characteristics of channels and pathways in Photosystem II including the identification of oxygen channel. J.Struct. Biol. 159, 228-237
  53. ^ Murray, J.W., Maghlaoui, K. and Barber, J, (2007) The structure of allophycocyanin from Thermosynechococcus elongatus at 3.5 angstrom resolution. Acta Crystallog. F, 63, 998-1002
  54. ^ Tran, P.D. Nguyen, M., Pramana, S., Chiam, S.Y., Bhattacharjee, A., Fize, J.,Field, M.J., Artero, V., Wong, L.H., Loo, J. and Barber, J. (2012) Copper Molybdenum Sulfide: A New Efficient Electrocatalyst for Hydrogen Production from Water. Energy and Environmental Sciences. 5, 8912-8916
  55. ^ Pagliano, C., Nield, J., Marsano, F., Pape, T., Barera, S., Saracco, G. and Barber, J.(2014) Proteomic characterization and three-dimensional electron microscopy study of PSII-LHCII supercomplexes from higher plants. Biochim. Biophys. Acta , 1837, 1454–1462
  56. ^ "James Barber - Royal Society". Royalsociety.org. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  57. ^ "Flintoff Medal". www.rsc.org. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  58. ^ "The Porter Medal". portermedal.com/winners. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  59. ^ "2020 Award Winners". biochemistry.org. Retrieved 29 August 2019.

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