Candace Pert

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Candace Beebe Pert
Candace Pert.jpg
Born(1946-06-26)June 26, 1946
DiedSeptember 12, 2013(2013-09-12) (aged 67)
Known forOpiate receptor, mind-body medicine pioneer, HIV treatment
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Institutes of Health
Georgetown University

Candace Beebe Pert (June 26, 1946 – September 12, 2013) was an American neuroscientist and pharmacologist who discovered the opiate receptor, the cellular binding site for endorphins in the brain.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

She was born on June 26, 1946 in Manhattan, New York City.

She completed her undergraduate studies in biology, cum laude in 1970 from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Academic career[edit]

In 1974, Candace Pert earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she worked in the laboratory of Solomon Snyder and discovered the brain's opiate receptor.[2] She also was the first person to isolate the T cell receptor.[citation needed] She tells the story of her discoveries in her book Molecules of Emotion.[3]

Pert conducted a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Department of Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1974 to 1975. She conducted research at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1975 to 1987.

In 1983, she became the Chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry of the Clinical Neuroscience Branch, the only female chief at NIMH.[4]

She left to found and direct a private biotech laboratory in 1987.

Pert was a Research Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC.

In her latter years, she was with RAPID Pharmaceuticals.[5][6]

In 1997 she published her book Molecules of Emotion.

She appeared as one of the experts in Bill Moyers 1993 PBS video production, "Healing and the Mind", and in the 2004 film What the #$*! Do We Know!?.

She died on September 12, 2013 in Potomac, Maryland.[1][7]

Peptides work[edit]

Pert published over 250 scientific articles on peptides and their receptors and the role of these neuropeptides in the immune system.

She held a number of patents for modified peptides in the treatment of psoriasis, Alzheimer's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, stroke and head trauma.

One of her modified peptides, Peptide T, had been considered for the treatment of AIDS and neuroAIDS. A placebo-controlled, three-site, 200+ patient NIH-funded clinical trial which was principally concerned with possible neurocognitive improvements, was conducted between 1990 and 1995. It was found that the effect of Peptide T was not significantly different from that of placebo on the primary end points of the study - various aspects of brain function. However, Peptide T was associated with improved performance (memory and learning) in the subgroup of patients with more severe cognitive impairment.[8] A long-delayed analysis of antiviral effects from the NIH study showed peripheral viral load (combined plasma and serum) was significantly reduced in the DAPTA-treated group.[9] An eleven-person study of Peptide T effects on cellular viral load showed reductions in infected monocyte reservoir to undetectable levels in most of the patients.[10] Pert was developing orally active peptide anti-inflammatory treatments for pain and Alzheimer's Disease and studies for treatment of HIV persistent viral reservoirs.

Lecturing and media[edit]

Pert lectured worldwide on peptide and other subjects, including her theories on emotions and mind-body communication.

Her popular book, Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel, (Scribner, 1997) expounded on her research and theories.

She was featured in Washingtonian magazine (December 2001) as one of Washington's fifty "Best and Brightest" individuals.[11]

The Sydney Morning Herald profiled Pert in 2004:

As a mere graduate student, in 1972 Candace Pert discovered the brain’s opiate receptor – the cellular site where the body’s painkillers and "bliss-makers", the endorphins – bond with cells to weave their magic.

Pert’s discovery led to a revolution in neuroscience, helping open the door to the “information-based” model of the brain which is now replacing the old “structuralist” model...

Molecules of Emotion begins as an eye-opener into the intellectual warfare of modern scientific discovery – the gamesmanship, the sly purloining of others’ results – but also into the round-the-clock work, the exhilaration of a shared breakthrough, and the slow, painful rise of women in the scientific professions.

The book concludes with the author integrating the science she pioneered with the holistic “energy medicines” which work on the same principles – till now without scientific rationales.[3]

Pert's experimental drug Peptide T is referenced as an alternative HIV/AIDS treatment in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club.

Event appearances[edit]

  • Pert was honored by the New York Open Center on November 7, 2006, for her "leadership across the bridge between science and heart."[This quote needs a citation]
  • Pert received the first time award of the Theophrastus Paracelsus Foundation in Holistic Medicine for her pioneering work in the area of psychoneuroimmunology (St Gallen, Switzerland) on April 12, 2008.

Other appearances[edit]

In 2004, Pert was an interview partner in the documentary film What the Bleep Do We Know!? where she appeared several times. She also appeared in the 2009 Louise Hay movie You Can Heal Your Life.[12]


  • Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Between Mind-Body Medicine Scribner (1999), ISBN 0-684-84634-9
  • Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d, with Nancy Marriott, Hay House, Inc. (2006), ISBN 1-4019-1059-9


  1. ^ a b John Schwartz (September 19, 2013). "Candace Pert, 67, Explorer of the Brain, Dies". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Pert CB, Snyder SH (March 1973). "Opiate receptor: demonstration in nervous tissue". Science. 179 (4077): 1011–4. doi:10.1126/science.179.4077.1011. PMID 4687585. S2CID 21783674.
  3. ^ a b Candace Pert, neuroscientist, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Melbourne); January 18, 2004.
  4. ^ "Pert, Candace B. (1946–)". Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Thomson Gale. January 1, 2007. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2012.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  5. ^ RapidPharmaceuticals Archived 2011-02-02 at
  6. ^ Candace Pert Archived 2010-01-11 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Emily Langer (September 19, 2013). "Candace B. Pert, neuroscientist who discovered opiate receptor, dies at 67". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  8. ^ Heseltine PN, Goodkin K, Atkinson JH, et al. (January 1998). "Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of peptide T for HIV-associated cognitive impairment". Archives of Neurology. 55 (1): 41–51. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.1.41. PMID 9443710.
  9. ^ Goodkin K, Vitiello B, Lyman WD, et al. (June 2006). "Cerebrospinal and peripheral human immunodeficiency virus type 1 load in a multisite, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of D-Ala1-peptide T-amide for HIV-1-associated cognitive-motor impairment". Journal of Neurovirology. 12 (3): 178–89. doi:10.1080/13550280600827344. PMID 16877299. S2CID 12925475.
  10. ^ Polianova MT, Ruscetti FW, Pert CB, et al. (July 2003). "Antiviral and immunological benefits in HIV patients receiving intranasal peptide T (DAPTA)". Peptides. 24 (7): 1093–8. doi:10.1016/S0196-9781(03)00176-1. PMID 14499289. S2CID 40797488.
  11. ^ Granat, Diane (December 2001). "Best and Brightest". Washingtonion.
  12. ^ "You Can Heal Your Life (2007)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 20, 2013.