Anna Barker joins ASU to lead Transformative Healthcare Networks

August 31, 2011

Anna Barker, former deputy director and deputy director for strategic scientific initiatives at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), is joining ASU as director of ASU’s Transformative Healthcare Networks, co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative and as a professor of practice within the School of Life Sciences, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

ASU’s Transformative Healthcare Networks initiative will leverage science and technology across ASU, U.S. academic institutions, research laboratories and all sectors to provide innovative solutions to major problems in health care. These science-focused team efforts could include development of advanced technologies, disease interventions, infrastructure and more — all with the goal of leveraging U.S. capabilities and innovation to ultimately improve human health and wellness. Download Full Image

At the NCI, Barker developed a number of strategic programs focused on the development of knowledge networks that emphasized innovation, publically available data, team science and convergence of the biological and physical sciences. Some of the programs planned and developed under her leadership included:  The Cancer Genome Atlas, co-developed with the National Human Genome Research Institute to identify all genomic and molecular changes in cancer; the Nanotechnology Alliance for Cancer, a network dedicated to developing and applying nanotechnologies; and the Physical Sciences Oncology Centers that connects physicists, mathematicians, engineers and cancer scientists dedicated to developing a fundamental understanding of cancer.

Barker collaborated with the leadership of the FDA to create and co-chair the NCI-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force, which was designed to reduce barriers in the development cycle of cancer drugs and diagnostics. During her years at NCI, Barker also worked with research communities to develop national resources such as high quality bio-banks and bioinformatics platforms needed to support personalized medicine. 

“Dr. Barker has vast experience developing large-scale initiatives involving transdisciplinary teams of researchers,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “She will be a tremendous asset to the university as we work to improve human health through the convergence of a variety of disciplines.”

“This hire was a strategic effort by ASU to address gaps in our expertise and create new opportunities for our students and faculty,” added ASU Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi. “We are exceedingly pleased that Dr. Barker has chosen to join us.”

Before working at NCI, Barker served in several senior executive roles at Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit research and development organization. She was also co-founder and CEO of a public biotechnology company that developed therapeutic drugs and companion diagnostics to control reactive oxygen damage, and she founded a private cancer technology company.

“With a background in government, nonprofits and private industry, Dr. Barker brings a wealth of expertise to ASU,” said R. F. “Rick” Shangraw, ASU senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development. “She will collaborate with the Biodesign Institute, Health Transformation Initiative and various schools to advance ASU’s leadership in the area of healthcare transformation.”

“I am pleased to be joining ASU – truly a university that embraces innovation and is tackling some of America’s and the world’s toughest challenges in healthcare and beyond. ASU is a great institution to lead the development of new transdisciplinary and multi-institutional knowledge network models of research dedicated to solving real-world healthcare problems,” Barker said.  

Barker received her Ph.D. from the Ohio State University, where she studied immunology and microbiology.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Volunteers needed for campus garden projects

September 1, 2011

When the calendar page is turned to September, it’s time to start to think about soil, plants and harvests.

Facilities Management at Arizona State University is gearing up for its fall programs on the Tempe campus, which is an arboretum, and needs volunteers who love to work in flower beds, pack dates and pick olives. Download Full Image

During the month of September, volunteers are needed to work in the Herb Garden and Secret Garden, both on the Tempe campus, said Deborah Thirkhill, program coordinator.

Those interested in the Herb Garden should meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday mornings at the picnic benches on the north side of the Student Services Building (east of Forest Avenue and Gammage Parkway), on the Tempe campus.

Volunteers for the Secret Garden should meet at 8 a.m., Friday mornings, in the Dixie Gammage courtyard, to prepare flower beds. Volunteers can stay as long as they wish, Thirkhill said.

Other upcoming events, open to the public, include:

• Farmers Market, every other Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., beginning Sept. 27, on the Tempe campus, west of the Memorial Union fountain on Orange Mall. The Arboretum will sell boxed campus harvest dates at the Farmers Market Oct. 11.

• Campus harvest date packing, Tempe campus. Volunteers are needed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday Oct. 6-29. Volunteers will receive a bag of campus dates.

• Second annual Date Festival, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Nov. 5, ASU’s Polytechnic campus. Enjoy rare varieties of dates fresh off the palm tree, date foods, Moroccan style entertainment, tours and lectures. Free.

• Olive harvest, 9 a.m. to noon, Nov. 19, Tempe campus. Pick a bucket of olives on campus. If you wish to have the olives pressed for oil, the Queen Creek Olive Mill allows individuals or groups to bring a minimum of 300 pounds of olive to be pressed, with the mill keeping half. Anyone interested in this option should call Christ Martin at the Olive Mill, (480) 888-9290 (press 7).

On Nov. 19, learn how to process green or black olives to eat. Guest speakers at ASU on Nov. 19 will be David Lawver, “Urban Harvesting,” and Rigoberto Polanco, “Curing Olives.”

For more information about volunteering or the events, contact Deborah Thirkhill, (480) 268-4165, or go to