Candace Dorinda Beebe was born June 26, 1946, in New York City. She entered Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania as an English major and began studying science on the suggestion of her first husband, Agu Pert, a future scientific collaborator.
She received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1970 and became fascinated by analgesics in part because of her injury in a horseback-riding accident shortly before she entered Johns Hopkins.
In the later years of her career, Dr. Pert became an outspoken advocate for the scientific research behind the mind-body connection, a line of medical inquiry founded on the notion that the two realms are inextricably linked. She was credited with adhering strictly to scientific standards even as she pursued unorthodox ideas.
Miles Herkenham, chief of the NIMH’s section on functional neuroanatomy and a former colleague of Dr. Pert’s, said in an interview that she “represented legitimate science in a crowd of people who are not legitimate scientists.”
In addition to her more specialized publications, she wrote two books for general readers, “Molecules of Emotion” (1997) and “Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d” (2006). She also appeared on television programs such as PBS’s “NewsHour” and in Bill Moyers’s “Healing and the Mind” (1993).
Dr. Pert’s first marriage ended in divorce. Besides her sister, survivors include her husband of 27 years, Michael Ruff of Potomac; three children from her first marriage, Evan Pert of Fredericksburg, Vanessa Pert Haneberg of Arnold and Brandon Pert of Los Angeles; and a grandson.
Dr. Pert was an advocate for women in science, once remarking that “it’s very difficult to climb up the bureaucratic ladder if you’re a female.” Her awards included a 1978 Arthur S. Flemming Award for exceptional service by a government employee.
Dr. Pert seemed to embrace her reputation as an independent-minded scientist. She kept in her office a sign that read: “If you are getting run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.”