July 24, 2014

Alfred Stracher

Dr. Alfred Stracher, a pioneer in the role of contractile proteins in biological processes, died on May 8 at the age of 82. The cause was complications from leukemia.

Over five decades, Dr. Stracher’s research on neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases shed new light on the structure of contractile proteins in muscle and platelets. Along with Dr. Paul Dreizen, he elucidated the two-chain structure of the molecule known as “myosin,” and defined the presence of the light chains in the molecule, which are now known to be an integral part of the structure. His investigation of the presence of contractile proteins in cells other than muscle, led to the coining of the phrase “non-muscle motility” which is in use today to describe the movement of all cell types using structural proteins similar to those present in muscle.

Dr. Stracher received a B.S. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1952, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1956. From 1956-1958, he was a fellow at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and a national research council fellow at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dr. Stracher joined the faculty at SUNY Downstate on September 1, 1959. He was appointed chairman of biochemistry in 1972, a position he held until 2006, making him the longest serving chair of biochemistry in the nation.

Dr. Stracher, along with the late Dr. Leo Kesner, developed a method for targeting drugs to specific tissues, as a means of lowering toxicity and the amount necessary for efficacy. In animal models, the method has been shown to be therapeutically effective in treating Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, TBI/Epilepsy, nerve injury, and acute Hearing Loss due to noise or drugs. The doctors formed the company, CepTor, which continues to research and investigate their patented method.

Dr. Stracher is survived by his wife, Dr. Dorothy Stracher, sons Cameron and Adam, daughter Erica Fields, and three grandchildren, Simon and Veronica Stracher and Ari Fields.