Patricia Barr, 52; Advocate for Better Breast Cancer Treatment

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From a Times Staff Writer

Patricia Barr, who became a nationally known advocate for improved treatment for breast cancer, died of the disease Thursday at her home in Shaftsbury, Vt. She was 52.

In 1991, four years after she was diagnosed, Barr became one of the original directors of the Washington, D.C.-based National Breast Cancer Coalition. She was instrumental in obtaining congressional approval for significant increases in government funding for breast cancer research.

U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), commenting on Barr’s death, said she “took the notion of advocacy to new heights.”


“One of my lasting memories of Pat is seeing her standing in the hallway, well past midnight, patiently explaining to individual senators why the Department of Defense should include funds for breast cancer research in its medical budget,” Leahy said in a statement. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of breast cancer research followed in her wake.”

As a health-care activist, Barr was a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Informed Consent Working Group, which established national standards for participants in clinical trials for cancer research.

She also served on a task force on genetic testing appointed by Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.

Barr also was active in Americans for Peace Now, a U.S. group that supports Israel’s peace movement, serving as its chairwoman in 1998 and co-chairwoman in 2002.

“Patricia Barr had ... a wonderful capacity for bringing her considerable intellectual prowess to bear on problems that would cause other people to simply shake their heads and walk away,” said Luis Lainer, co-chairman of Americans for Peace Now.

Barr also was a lawyer in Bennington, Vt.

She is survived by her husband, Rolf Sternberg; and two daughters.