A native of Scotland, Dr. Barr obtained his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Oxford, England. He completed postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty of Ball State University in Indiana in the Department of Psychological Sciences.
Dr. Barr joined the National Institute on Aging in 1987 as a program administrator in the Behavioral and Social Research Program. During that time he helped to develop the Institute's research initiatives on cognitive functioning, human factors, and older drivers. He helped to establish the NIA Roybal Centers and the Institute's ACTIVE initiative examining cognitive interventions to improve functioning in older adults.
From 1994–2006, he was Deputy Head of the Division of Extramural Activities and the NIA Training Officer. In this latter capacity he had particular responsibility for overseeing training initiatives, for anticipating the need for new kinds of training and for working with the National Institutes of Health in shaping overall research training policy. He also played a key role in establishing public-private partnerships to pursue career development and training initiatives.
In April 2006, Dr. Barr became Acting Director of the NIA Division of Extramural Activities and was appointed Director of the division in June 2007. Since that time he has worked at the NIH level to help shape policies toward new and early stage investigators. His leadership role at NIA includes managing the National Advisory Council on Aging and advising the NIA Director on all extramural activities of the Institute.
General questions on extramural activities, Scientific Meeting applications, Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15), Small grants (R03) and Exploratory/Developmental (R21) applications (general questions), Certificates of confidentiality, Referral Liaison