Sidney Alan Barker (or Alan as he preferred to be known) passed away peacefully on Sunday October 14th, 2018 at the Moundsley Care Village Nursing Home, Kings Norton,Birmingham after a brief illness.
Born and raised in Lozells, Birmingham, the son of Gladys (Allen) and Philip Henry Barker, a tinsmith. He was the second eldest of four children.
Alan achieved high grades during his school years at Handsworth Grammar school and developed a special affinity for history and chemistry. In Sept 1944 he was awarded a scholarship at Birmingham University to study for his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and went onto achieve a first-class honour followed by his PhD a few years later. He specialised in carbohydrate chemistry and the department by this time had become world renown following the achievement of Professor Haworth in synthesising vitamin C for which he won a Nobel prize. He was awarded several scholarships, the Mackinnon by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and in 1955 he was awarded the Rockefeller scholarship and worked at the University of Berkeley , California for several years. Whilst there he learnt how to handle and employ radioactive isotopes of carbon and phosphorus and as a result spent some time working at Harwell Atomic Research Centre.
On his return, following a submission of 51 papers he was awarded his Doctor of Science in 1957 His research at this time was involving ways of protecting the human body from the effect gamma rays with respect to the kinds of carbohydrates and proteins found in the human body. He visited Moscow in 1962 on behalf of the RSC, as a guest of the Russian Academy Science. He led the Carbohydrate Research team at the University of Birmingham from 1956, and worked with research students on the role of carbohydrate in human health, as well in conjunction with researchers at the University of Birmingham Medical School, and a number of hospitals in the West Midlands .In particular ,he and his team collaborated with Dr Carl Cook and Prof Wilfred Butt at the Women's Hospital on follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and it's use in fertility treatment. Barker was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1962, and Reader in Carbohydrate Chemistry in 1964. He was offered a visiting Professorship in 1966 at the University of Illinois, USA and the following year he took up a Canadian Commonwealth Fellowship in 1967 based at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario.
On his return in 1969 he was made Professor of Carbohydrate Chemistry at University of Birmingham and also became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He supported the RSC on technical committees, provision of advice and membership for more than sixty years.
During the period that followed he not only travelled worldwide but also worked closely with industry and many of the top 100 companies. Many of his consultancies where with companies with interests in the use of immobilized enzymes, and or in the attachment of enzymes. During this consultancy work he produced several inventions that resulted in patents being assigned to companies He wrote several books amongst which the following are: Polysaccharides of Microorganisms ,1960, Carbohydrate of Living Tissues, 1962, was sole author and co-author of numerous papers.
He retired from the University and teaching when he was 65 years but carried on with some consultancy work and it was shortly after this that his first wife Miriam Ruth Barker passed away with cancer. They had been married for 42 years and had three children two daughters and a son and four grandchildren. He remarried shortly afterwards to Jean Clare and is survived by his widow.
Later in his career and during his retirement he developed a passion for history and after tracing the family history back to 1100 AD, he applied for and was granted a Coat of Arms. He was as sought after for his skills on lecturing in the heraldry field as in chemistry. Music was also a passion of his and from an early age he had played the piano and organ. With his eldest sister Olga, he would play duets and on several occasions, they played on the radio for Children's hour hosted by Uncle Mac. In his retirement he played the organ at his local church.
He has donated both his chemistry research and much of his history collection to the special collections section of University of Birmingham Library.