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Discipline: Physical Organic Chemistry
Research Area: Model and Natural Biomembranes: Protection by Antioxidants against Free Radical Peroxidation
Ross Barclay earned his BSc at Mount Allison University as a member of the highly acclaimed class of '49.
Ross remained at Mount Allison to complete his MSc and then went on to McMaster where he acheived his PhD.
Free Radical Reactions and their Inhibition in Chemical and Model Biochemical Systems
Free radicals, especially oxygen centered ones, cause damage to natural systems such as lipids in human phospholipid membranes and the effects are implicated in various degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, will trap these radicals, and we have discovered synthetic phenolic antioxidants more active than the natural ones.
Recent research has shown that certain natural compounds such as DNA bases, and urocanic acid initiate photo-oxidation of lipids and this has relevance to the initiation of skin cancer. This research is being applied to natural fluids such as human blood plasma where a reactive form of oxygen, singlet oxygen, can be the damaging species.
A variety of natural substances such as flavonoids from many plants are used by humans as "antioxidants" to trap and deactivate damaging oxygen-centred radicals. The bile pigments, bilirubin and biliverdin, are present in human blood from natural catabolism of haemoglobin. We are currently studying the antioxidant activities of such compounds and of synthetic model compounds by quantitative kinetic methods to evaluate their antioxidant efficacy.
Grants, awards, & honours
SACKVILLE, NB - Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, announced new appointments to the Order of Canada last week, including Mount Allison professor Dr. Ross Barclay. A graduate of Mount Allison (Class of '49), Dr. Barclay has been working in the field of Chemistry for 50 years. He is recognized for his achievements in Education.
"I know that the entire Mount Allison University community joins in congratulating Dr. Barclay. Throughout his teaching and his exceptional research career, Ross has inspired generations of students and faculty colleagues and this honour is richly deserved," said Dr. Peter Ennals, Vice-President (Academic and Research).
During his career as a chemist at Mount Allison, Dr. Barclay modernized teaching and research methods. He is known for involving his students in his pioneering work and providing them with publication opportunities. Dr. Barclay has attracted millions in research grants, encouraging generations of young Canadians to pursue their education in Atlantic Canada. Though he officially retired five years ago, he continues to inspire and share his passion with students as a university research professor.
Dr. Barclay did not expect to receive the country's highest honour for lifetime achievement. "It was a great big surprise to me," said Dr. Barclay. "It is overwhelming because usually this sort of involvement at a smaller university is not so much in the public domain, especially in Science. I rose on the shoulders of excellent students and research assistants that I've had over the years," he added.
Dr. Barclay's most recent research project began last November when he joined a group including members from Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and the National Research Council (NRC). With funding from the Strategic Project Grant, this team is researching the anti-aging effects of novel anti-oxidants. Their goal is not necessarily to prolong the human lifespan but rather to alleviate some of the damaging effects produced by aging. Dr. Barclay's research has been supported by the NRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Woodpulps Network of Centres of Excellence, among others.
Three out of the four New Brunswick recipients of the Order of Canada this year are Mount Allison graduates. In addition to Dr. Barclay, there is also the Reverend Sister Elaine MacInnes (Class of '44) and Carol Proctor (Class of '48); both are recognized for their contributions in the field of Social Service.