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Archive
Steven Barker

Steven Barker

Everett D. Besch Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine

Director, Analytical Systems Laboratory, Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory and the Laboratory for Drug Residue Studies
State Chemist, Louisiana State Racing Commission

What was your previous position and where?

Before taking a position at LSU, I was the director of research and administrative assistant director of the UAB Comprehensive Mass Spectrometry Center in Birmingham, Ala., and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. I received my B.S. (’71), M.S. (’73) and Ph.D. (’78) from UAB in chemistry. My Ph.D. was conducted in the neuroscience program of the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and involved studies on hallucinogens and their relationship to the symptomology of schizophrenia.

What brought you to LSU?

I responded to an advertisement in 1984 for a position in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. The position was for someone to start a central-service analytical laboratory to assist faculty and students in conducting research and to develop the laboratory’s ability to take on drug testing for the Louisiana State Racing Commission. I accepted the position at the associate professor level and started at LSU on Jan. 4, 1985.

What is your research interest?

Most of our research efforts over the years have focused on the development of new methods for the isolation, detection and confirmation of drugs and their metabolites. This keeps us actively involved in conducting drug metabolism, clearance and pharmacokinetic studies. Since the laboratory also serves as a central-service, we conduct research with a variety of faculty on a variety of interests, from proteins in ticks to the kinetics of anesthetics in parrots. I have also continued my interests in hallucinogens and am currently conducting collaborative research on the sacramental drink ayahuasca, which contains the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine. I am also involved in collaborative studies assessing the possible role of this compound, which occurs naturally in humans, in creativity, imagination, dream states, etc., supported in part by the Cottonwood Research Foundation, for which I serve as the vice president.

What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?

With the ongoing success of the Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory, or EMSL, we hope to take it to a higher level of capability with the addition of more sophisticated mass spectrometric instrumentation — we currently have eight such instruments — used for the detection and confirmation of drugs and to achieve accreditation of the laboratory under ISO17025 by next summer. While the laboratory already enjoys international recognition, we hope to expand our capabilities so as to begin to offer our services on both a national and international basis. The EMSL currently serves as a popular referee laboratory for drug testing in the equine industry, receiving samples from the major racing jurisdictions in the U.S. as well as several foreign entities. I also hope to answer the question of why humans naturally produce hallucinogens, a question I’ve been chasing for 35 years!

What do you enjoy most about LSU?

The people and the culture they embody, and the beautiful campus! Although my wife, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and also a native Alabamian, and I are HUGE Alabama fans, we enjoy LSU sports, its fans and their enthusiasm.

What are your major accomplishments?

Being recognized in a positive way for your efforts by your peers and by the universities one has attended or worked for is a welcome reflection of what we hope we have accomplished:
  • Beecham Award for Research Excellence, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, 1987
  • Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, 1988
  • Aesculapian Lecturer, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, 1991
  • Member, Food and Drug Administration Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee; Executive Branch Special Employee of President William J. Clinton Administration, 1996-2000
  • Faculty Distinguished Service Award, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, 2004
  • Everett D. Besch Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Medicine, 2004-10
  • Outstanding Alumni Award-School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, UAB, Jan. 25, 2007
I have one patent and more than 130 peer reviewed publications. I am also a nationally and internationally established expert witness regarding drug analysis and pharmacology in civil, federal and criminal courts and administrative law proceedings.

 




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