Honorary awards

Professor Enid F Gilbert-Barness

The degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) was conferred upon Professor Enid Gilbert-Barness, Professor of Pathology and Paediatrics at the University of South Florida, at a ceremony held on 29 October 1999.

Professor Enid Gilbert-Barness with her husband, Professor Lewis Barness

Professor Enid Gilbert-Barness with her husband, Professor Lewis Barness, photo, Tracey Schramm, 'The University of Sydney News' 4 November 1999, University of Sydney Archives.


Presented by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gavin Brown:


I have the honour to present Professor Enid Gilbert-Barness for the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Medicine (Honoris Causa).

Enid Gilbert-Barness graduated from the University of Sydney Medical School in 1950 and was awarded a doctorate in Medicine in 1983. In 1952, she went to London and then to the United States, where she has had a highly distinguished career in pathology and paediatric medicine. Her impressive list of publications includes 5 books, 477 papers, 6 pages of invited speeches, and 67 chapters in books. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (Australia) and a member of many leading societies, including the International Academy of Pathology, the American Academy of Paediatrics, the United States Canada Academy of Pathology, and the New York Academy of Science. She was President of the Society for Paediatric Pathology from 1986 to 1987, and of the International Paediatric Pathology Association from 1990 to 1992. She is also involved in 22 National committees, 12 international, and a large number of state and local committees as well as editorial boards.

Her professional life has been spent in children's hospitals and at universities in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Texas at Austin, West Virginia, and as professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At one time, she served two simultaneous professorships and a chairmanship there while also winning the "Best Teacher" award 5 years in succession. At that point, they made a rule that she could not win it again, in order "to give others a chance". She is currently Professor of Pathology and Paediatrics at the University of South Florida. In 1998, she received the Sydney University Graduates Union of North America Alumni Award.

She has immensely enriched the field of paediatric and genetic pathology. There is hardly a major topic in that area to which she has not made an important contribution, both in practice and as a scientist, and she has become one of the world's leaders on congenital abnormalities of the heart. As well as that, she is equally respected for her contributions to tumour biology, abnormal skeletal growth, congenital anomalies and syndromes, the developmental effects of chromosomal defects-O, the sudden-infant-death "syndrome", and many genetic and hereditary disorders.

She has been a life-long advocate of children, supporting many charitable organizations including Save the Children and Teen Voices. She also testifies frequently, pro bono, for child abuse actions and is writing her first book for the general public, "Silent Injustice", based on material collected during these cases.

Despite her extraordinary career, she has maintained a full family life. According to them, her favourite maxim is, "Just do it", and she was saying this for many years before it became a slogan for a well-known sports equipment brand. She is a strong supporter of the local Episcopalian Church and was chosen out of 2000 to be the "Lay Presenter" at the consecration of the Bishop of Chicago.

Among her students, her nickname was "Queen Britannica". On January 26 each year, they wheeled a piano into the lecture hall and sang a rousing chorus of "Waltzing Matilda".

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting Professor Enid Gilbert-Barness for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (Honoris Causa).