Albert Baird Hastings was born in Dayton, Kentucky, and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1917 with a degree in physical chemistry and entered the University of Michigan Graduate School. His graduate training was interrupted by World War I, however, and he took a job as a "sanitary chemist" with the Public Health Service, studying fatigue. After the war, Hastings completed his graduate education in physiology at Columbia University, where he studied acid-base balance as affected by exercise.
Upon receiving his Ph.D. in 1921, Hastings was invited by Donald D. Van Slyke to join his group at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. He spent 5 years with Van Slyke, during which he studied the physical chemistry of hemoglobin, acid-base balance, and gas-electrolyte equilibria in blood. In 1936, Hastings accepted a professorship at the University of Chicago. There he extended his research on the physicochemical structure of blood to that of tissues. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in acid-base metabolism. In 1935, Hastings became head of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Harvard Medical School and remained there for 25 years. He left Harvard for the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in 1959, where he was active in research for another 20 years. Some of Hastings' research was featured in a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1).
Hastings served on countless national and international advisory panels, commissions, and committees and received many honors for his research accomplishments during a distinguished career. As a member of the very influential Committee for Medical Research during World War II, he received the National Medal of Merit from President Harry S. Truman. Hastings was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1937 and was awarded the Banting Medal of the American Diabetes Association in 1962 and a U.S. Public Health Service citation for his lifetime contributions (1917– 1964). He served as president of the American Society of Biological Chemists from 1945 to 1946.
1. Simoni, R. D., Hill, R. L., and Vaughan, M. (2004) Metabolic studies with radioactive carbon, 11C: A. Baird Hastings. J. Biol. Chem. 279 (2)