Candace Pert, PhD
Dr. Candace Pert (1946-2013) has been called “The Mother of Psychoneuroimmunology”, and “The Goddess of Neuroscience” by her many fans. To her colleagues she was an internationally recognized neuroscientist and pharmacologist who published over 250 research articles and was a significant contributor to the emergence of Mind-Body Medicine as an area of legitimate scientific research in the 1980’s.
Candace, in addition to being a highly creative neuroscientist, was also an activist, leading the charge to advance the cultural and scientific context in which we understand, experience, and employ our imagination, beliefs, and expectations to activate the realm of potentiality, via the emotions and their stored memories in what she called the BodyMind. No hyphen, to emphasize its unity. In this concept Candace realized the unified and integrated level at which physiology, mind, and consciousness access one another, to enhance or diminish wellness. While these concepts are fairly broadly disseminated and accepted in current healing and medical practices, thirty years ago when Dr. Pert authored her first scientific papers and popular books on these themes, these ideas were considered laughable, radical, even heretical to the medical cannon. She did not waver in her advocacy, and new knowledge has supported and extended her ground-breaking ideas.
In particular, Candace formulated a theory of the emotions, mediated by receptor active peptides, such as the neuropeptides and immune system cytokines, as the agents that integrated communication between the brain and the body. Candace thought emotions were stored in the body, at the receptors, and that healthy communication via emotional expression was key to integrating the mind and the body. She called these biological mediators “Informational Substances”, to emphasize the primacy of information, and of mind. She taught that mind existed both within and beyond the body, via its animating principal, consciousness. Emotions were one way to transduce the information of BodyMind between and among individuals and groups. Wellness practices such as somatic, behavioral, and contemplative practices thereby had a physiological basis and could be used to promote or enhance health and recovery from illness by integrating the body’s native repair and regenerative systems, providing a biochemistry and modern interpretation for the Wisdom of the Body. Her ideas were taken forward by many others and there continues to be great interest in research studies in Complementary Medicine. Her vision was for a new medicine in which such practices would make a significant contribution to health, combined with or without traditional allopathic practice.
While a graduate student, Dr.Pert discovered the elusive opiate receptor, a major step in the advancement of neuroscience, which won her boss a Lasker Prize in 1978. Shortly thereafter and breaking the gender barrier, Dr. Pert became Chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry, Clinical Neuroscience Branch, at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1983. Later in her career, she held a Research Professorship in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. At the time of her death in 2013, Dr. Pert was working as the Chief Scientific Officer of Rapid Pharmaceuticals, which she co-founded. Her work on Peptide T and other drugs continues in Creative Bio-Peptides, Inc. which is developing new orally active analogs for pain, dementia’s, CTE, and brain injury.
Dr. Pert appeared in the films What the Bleep Do We Know!?? and The People vs the State of Illusion and was an on-air contributor to Bill Moyer’s TV program Healing and the Mind. She is the author of the books Molecules of Emotion, The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (Scribner, 1997) and Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d (Hay House, 2006). She also authored the musical guided imagery CD Psychosomatic Wellness: Healing your Body-Mind. and Healing the Hurting, Shining the Light, A Chakra Meditation for all your BodyMinds. Candace famously said “Your Body is your Subconscious Mind” and she believed the meditations and affirmations she wrote and produced in these CD’s would help you access subconscious patterns and reprogram them for better health.
- A Founder of MindBody Medicine. Candace favored the “no-hypen” to emphasize wholeness.
- Co-founder with Michael Ruff of The Institute for New Medicine (TINM), a 501(c)(3) research and educational non-profit.
- Co-Founder of RAPID Pharmaceuticals, which was developing Peptide T and other drugs for HIV, Brain Injury, Pain, & Alzheimer’s until 2015.
- Discoverer of the role of the emotions, via the neuropeptides of the brain and body in health, and immunity. Her scientific paper is here.
- Described how the emotions act like drugs in the brain and body and control storage of memories, that is the brain is not the sole storer or processor of information, that happens in the body too.
- Created “First in Class” oral peptide medicines for HIV/AIDS, like Peptide T, the first HIV entry inhibitor. Proven in clinical studies to enhance cognition, memory. Prevents neurodegeneration.
- Medicines for Autism, Alzheimer’s, Pain, Traumatic Brain Injury, Neuro-AIDS and others.
- Discover of the Opiate Receptor, led to discovery of the Endorphins. Showed pain relief in acupuncture occurred via endorphins.
- Chief of Section on Brain Biochemistry at the NIH, Professor of Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, Author, Founder of Biotech Companies, creator of oral peptide therapuetics for AIDS, AD, brain injury.