The pioneer of the “neuropeptide” concept, studying their effects, especially adrenocorticotropic hormones and related brain peptides on neuromuscular function.
Fleur L. Strand, a native of South Africa, both began and ended her distinguished career at NYU, where she received her BA, MS, and PhD, and served as a faculty member from 1961 to her retirement in 1997. Dr. Strand was a physiologist who broke new ground both in her research and in advancing the role of women in science. In her research, Dr. Strand was a pioneer of the neuropeptide concept. One of her most notable discoveries was that ACTH, the hormone that controls the adrenal glands, has an effect on nerves and muscles. Additionally, her research on lab rats indicated that the offspring of women who smoke or are exposed to high levels of stress during pregnancy could have sexual problems later in life, such as reduced libido.
Dr. Strand began teaching at NYU Biology in 1961. In 1980, she became the department's first female chair. She was the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Biology at NYU from 1991 to 1997, and also a Professor of Neural Science. During this time, Dr. Strand mentored over 80 graduate student dissertations, authored multiple textbooks and primary research and review articles, and co-founded several professional societies, including the International Neuropeptide Society. She also received the NYU Distinguished Teaching Medal in 1995.
Dr. Strand was the recipient of many awards. In 1976, Dr. Stand was named a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, and was elected its President in 1987. She served as president of the board of trustees of the American Institute of Science and Technology and received numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including the American Medical Writers Award (1984) for her physiology textbook, NYC Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science & Technology (2001), Outstanding Women Scientist of the Year (1987), NYU Distinguished Teaching Award, and was nominated for the Mike Salpeter Women in Neuroscience Lifetime Achievement Award. Among the many aspects of her legacy is the Fleur L. Strand Award, given by the American Physiological Society (APS), which was established by her former graduate students in 2011 to recognize the achievements of a young physiologist, enabling the recipient to attend APS's annual Experimental Biology conference. In addition, Dr. Strand generously endowed a graduate student fellowship at the NYU Department of Biology “The Fleur Strand Graduate Fellowship”, which is awarded annually to a fourth year doctoral student who shows the most promise in becoming a leader in biomedical research.
Dr. Strand died the age of 83 on December 23, 2011.