Updated on March 16, 2018
Daniel Berman ’84 graduated from Pitzer College with a degree in political studies. His fondest memories of Pitzer include a sociology course called “Adventures in Desocialization,” which encouraged students to toss aside convention and dare to live in a manner that would defy the status quo. The class drew on the discourse of landmark thinkers who stimulated societal change, a course of action that compelled Daniel and now characterizes his career.
Another pivotal point for Daniel was the semester he spent abroad in Nepal while at Pitzer. For him, this cultural immersion was a chance to understand the realities of life in a place that had a dramatically different level of wealth and economic development. It was one of the life-changing experiences that encouraged him to pursue a professional path that would address inequalities in access to healthcare. But it took a while for Daniel to find his place at Doctors Without Borders, for which he currently serves as the deputy director of the Access to Essential Medicines Campaign.
Preceding this position, Daniel completed a master’s degree in marketing and international business at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where he was honored with the dean’s fellowship for academic excellence. He then began working in pharmaceutical marketing and communications in New York. He was working on AIDS products at a time when the disease was transformed from a death sentence to a treatable chronic disease.
Daniel then moved back to California to serve as the news director at the joint academic medical centers of Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco. But he became bothered by the fact that the vast majority of people with AIDS were living in places where the treatments were not available, mostly due to their high costs.
This was the impetus to go in a different professional direction. In 1999, he helped Doctors Without Borders launch the Access to Essential Medicines Campaign. One of their first priorities was to support the generic production of AIDS cocktails to enable treatment in developing counties in Africa, Asia and South America. Daniel was part of an international coalition of activists that fought for generic production and international financing of AIDS treatment. Today, his work is focused on increasing access to new vaccines and pushing for the development of vaccines that are practical to use in developing countries.
During a period of leave from Doctors Without Borders, he worked as a consultant to the World Health Organization’s regional office in Cairo. The project explored the unique collaboration between the medical community, government and AIDS activists that led to a scale-up of AIDS treatment in Morocco.
Daniel currently lives with his partner between Geneva and Paris.