Dr. Charles H. Barrows, 80, NIH gerontologist


Dr. Charles Harry Barrows III, a National Institutes of Health gerontologist who gained international recognition for his research into the biochemistry of aging, died of stomach cancer Saturday at Rest Haven, his home in the Hampton section of Baltimore County. He was 80.

Dr. Barrows, who was known throughout his life as "Chubby," was born in Stelton, N.J., and raised in South River, N.J., where he graduated from high school in 1942. During World War II, he served with an infantry unit of Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army in Europe.

After the war, he attended Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1948. He moved to Baltimore, where he earned his doctorate in 1953 in biochemistry from what was then the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Dr. Barrows began his career in 1953 with the Gerontology Research Center, which had been established on the grounds of the old Baltimore City Hospitals - now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center - by the National Institutes of Health.

"The study of aging was his entire career," said his wife of 57 years, the former Lois Jeanette Thomson.

During his 30-year career with NIH, he contributed significant research to the study of human aging. The author of more than 100 scientific articles, he also lectured widely throughout the world on aging.

In 1970, Dr. Barrows was the recipient of the Gerontological Society's prestigious Robert N. Kleemeier Award for his research and "the considerable information he has provided about aging changes in a variety of tissues in different animal species."

The American Aging Association recognized his work in 1987 when it presented its research award for "his significant studies of biological changes produced in animals by dietary restrictions."

Dr. Barrows was one of the early researchers who concluded that dietary restriction was effective in increasing the life spans of mature animals.

"He can be fairly described as a pioneer in the field of gerontology when it was still very much in the experimental realm and when very few scientists shared the belief that it was possible to extend life by reducing caloric intake. It was one of the landmark discoveries," said longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Reubin Andres, a Baltimore gerontologist.

"The idea that under-feeding would extend life was suggested in the 1930s, but it was in the 1960s that Dr. Barrows' research rekindled interest in the subject. He really is best known for that," Dr. Andres said.

"He was ebullient, friendly and collegial and well-respected by his colleagues. And he was internationally known for his work," he added.

Dr. Barrows retired in 1988.

Dr. Barrows was an avid genealogist and enjoyed travel, fishing and boating.

He was a communicant and choir member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd. in Baynesville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Barrows is survived by three sons, Michael Norman Barrows and Timothy James Barrows, both of Bel Air, and Kevin John Barrows of Hunt Valley; two daughters, Susan Elizabeth Murphy of Clarksburg, Pa., and Barbara Ann Sullivan of Annandale, N.J.; and 12 grandchildren.

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