Candace Pert died of a heart attack Sept. 12. It was her discovery of the opioid receptor that won the Lasker Prize for Sol Snyder. As described by Jonathan Schwartz in the New York Times,
Such omissions are common in the world of science; the graduate student in the lab rarely gets credit beyond being the first name on the papers describing the research. But Dr. Pert did something unusual: she protested, sending a letter to the head of the foundation that awards the prize, saying she had “played a key role in initiating the research and following it up” and was “angry and upset to be excluded.”
Her letter caused a sensation in the field. Some saw her exclusion as an example of the burdens and barriers women face in science careers.
In a 1979 article about Dr. Pert in the The Washington Post, Dr. Snyder, who had lauded Dr. Pert’s contributions in his Lasker acceptance speech, argued that “that’s the way the game is played,” adding that today’s graduate students will be tomorrow’s lab chiefs, and that “when they have students, it will be the same.”
Read her NYT obit here. And come back soon, we’re posting material every day now —the relevant background and the ongoing history.