Retirement Announcement: Kevin Barr, Research Technician, Laird Lab

It is with mixed emotions that I write this note to make you aware of Kevin Barr’s upcoming retirement from Western University in June. Kevin began his long research career at Western working for Dr. John Wiebe on testicular steroids and gonadotropins from 1979-1992. After a lateral move within the Department of Zoology, he joined the research group of Dr. Jerry Kidder where he began to study gap junctions and sodium potassium ATPase in the context of early development, infertility, and both male and female reproduction. Under Jerry’s tutelage, and after they moved to the Department of Physiology in 1996, Kevin added genetically-modified mouse studies to his extensive skill set which was instrumental in characterizing the first ever connexin knockout mouse. Kevin became a foundational member of the Gap Junction Group that formed in 2002 that centralized the laboratories of Drs. Jerry Kidder, Martin Sandig, Donglin Bai, me, and the late Dan Belliveau. In the following years, Kevin’s research focused extensively on mice as the group collectively employed many acquired connexin strains. In time new pannexin knockout mice were introduced to the collection in large part due to Kevin’s strategic breeding strategies. As Dr. Kidder transitioned into retirement, I was fortunate to acquire a bigger share of Kevin’s time and vast skillset. Starting in 2013, there emerged an opportunity for Kevin to share his expertise with Drs. Kat Willmore and Silvia Penuela who were starting laboratories of their own in connexin and pannexin biology, respectively, as well as with Dr. Lina Dagnino who has a vibrant research program on skin homeostasis and cancer. Kevin was instrumental in fostering the development and expansion of mouse models that were central to their respective research programs. In the most recent years, Kevin expanded his wealth of knowledge by becoming the Director or the Confocal Microscopy Facility which is housed in the Dental Science Building and has serviced the imaging needs of over 15 laboratories and dozens of trainees.    

Kevin’s research career at Western is a testament of commitment, dedication, and success. Interestingly, Kevin has amassed an h-index of 24, has co-authored 73 publications and has amassed over 2200 citations (Web of Science), rivaling the careers of many successful investigators. During his illustrious career, he has touched the lives of dozens of principal investigators and hundreds of trainees. On a personal note, I have been extremely fortunate to have had Kevin as part of my research team and he is someone I consider a friend.  Over the years I have been blessed to get to know his wife, Christine, and their three lovely daughters. Future plans for Kevin include spending time with his family and developing even more skills in woodworking and building model railroads, a process that entails 3D printing. Please take a moment when you see Kevin in the hallways to wish him well in the next season of life.

Dale Laird, PhD