View Barger's Odyssey medal acceptance speech.
A native of Searcy, Dr. Barger graduated from Hendrix College in 1987 with the Spessard Biology Award, then entered the Department of Cell Biology graduate program at Vanderbilt University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1992, Barger began a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, where he received an award from the French Foundation for Alzheimer's Research and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award. In 1995, he became an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Anatomy at UAMS and was named the first recipient of the Inglewood Fellowship for Alzheimer's Research. In 1996, Barger was joint-appointed as Research Health Scientist in the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS; Department of Veterans Affairs).
He has over 75 publications, directs three NIH-sponsored grant projects, holds a U.S. Patent, sits on the editorial board of five scientific journals, and reviews grants for several NIH panels and private foundations. Barger currently advises a graduate student and two postdoctoral fellows, directs a course on the biology of aging, and serves as Aging Track Leader for the University’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Program. He has been a member of the Committee for Animals in Research at the Society for Neuroscience and president of the Society’s Arkansas Chapter.
Barger’s research focuses on the processes underlying the initiation and progression of Alzheimer's disease. He has elucidated the function of several proteins for which genetic variations contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. Barger’s research also documented the inappropriate release of neurotransmitters by immune-system cells in the Alzheimer brain.
Barger’s personal life is enriched by his two children (Weston and Stephanie), parents (Bill and Pat), brother (Craig), sister (Dana Jones) and her family. His primary recreational pursuits are outdoor-related activities, including cycling, running, horseback riding, backpacking, canoeing, and adventure racing.