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Updated 1:30 PM October 12, 2007




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Pediatric AIDS focus of Vivian R. Shaw lecture

Despite 20 successful years in investments and corporate finance, Pamela Barnes says she felt as if she was only using "half of her brain."
(Photo courtesy Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)

Barnes, then 40 years old, realized that this "half" did not incorporate her dreams and passions, including one that involved the health and wellbeing of women and children. It wasn't until she saw her husband Tim's career transition from finance to teaching that she knew it was time to make a change in her life.

Barnes now puts her passion of helping women and children into practice while serving as president and chief executive officer of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. She will visit the University this month to deliver the 2007 Vivian R. Shaw Lecture, titled "Putting Passion into Practice." The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is 3:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Rackham Amphitheater.

"Many of us, particularly in the United States, grow up focused on a set of skills to make a living in the world," she says. "Sometimes we put aside the passion and dreams until we have time.

"Our work and passion don't need to be separate as we progress through our lives. It's a real joy if we can make it happen."

Founded in 1988, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to prevent pediatric HIV infection and to eradicate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs.

Since then, there has been tremendous success in almost eliminating pediatric AIDS in the United States by using treatments to prevent babies from contracting the disease from their mothers. Today there are fewer than 200 babies born annually in the U.S. with HIV, compared to more than 2000 at the height of the pandemic.

More developing countries aspire to lower the number of children born with HIV/AIDS. During a recent trip to Tanzania, where she attended the opening of a new hospital clinic supported by the Foundation, Barnes saw the country's president Jakaya Kikwete and his wife lead a national campaign for citizens to be tested for HIV/AIDS. "That was leadership and set a standard" for leaders in other countries, she says.

Barnes says an additional challenge in other countries is recruiting people to become health care workers and technicians, and having adequate infrastructure. Some areas do not have running water or electricity.

Barnes also encouraged students with a passion for global health and medicine to enter the field and become the next generation of doctors, scientists, and healthcare professionals who are desperately needed on the front lines fighting the pandemic. In particular, there is a shortage of specialists focusing on the specific medical needs of children.

The Vivian R. Shaw Lecture is a joint Women's Studies/Institute for Research on Women and Gender lecture series established in 1997 by alumna Ellen Agress to commemorate her mother. Agress says the lecture is intended to affect the way people think about issues that concern women, and to inspire public and private programs to deal with those issues.

"I was also hoping to set an example for other alumnae and students in terms of philanthropy — giving back to an institution that gave a lot to us," she says. Barnes' career "exemplifies the spirit of giving back and philanthropy I was hoping the lectures would help instill," Agress says.

The lecture is sponsored by the Women's Studies program, School of Social Work and the School of Public Health.

For additional information about the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation go to

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