In Memoriam: Ann Streissguth
The NIAAA community mourns the passing of Ann P. Streissguth, Ph.D., who died on August 1, 2023. An internationally renowned expert on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), Dr. Streissguth and colleagues published the first study identifying “fetal alcohol syndrome” in the United States and its link to maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
“Dr. Streissguth was a pioneer whose seminal research was vital to our earliest understanding of FASD,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “Her contributions to the field are prodigious. Dr. Streissguth was both an outstanding clinical investigator and a great humanitarian who cared deeply about the communities affected by prenatal alcohol exposure,” said Dr. Koob.
Trained in clinical psychology, Dr. Streissguth was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She became the founding director of the school’s Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit in 1974. That year, Dr. Streissguth also began serving as the principal investigator of a new NIAAA-funded longitudinal study—"Alcohol Intake during Pregnancy: Offspring Development”—which she led for more than 30 years. This landmark program followed study participants from childhood, through adolescence, and into their adult years, to better understand the long-term neurodevelopmental consequences of FASD.
In addition, Dr. Streissguth received NIAAA funding for projects focused on prevention and intervention approaches for FASD. Other facets of her research focused on improving diagnostic tools to measure FASD. Dr. Streissguth also worked with Native American communities on FASD training workshops and screening clinics.
Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Streissguth served as a key advisor in collaboration with Federal, state, and local organizations, including the NIAAA Ad Hoc Extramural Science Advisory Board on Alcohol and Pregnancy; the Research Society on Alcohol; the American Psychological Association; the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention; and many others. In addition to her numerous scientific publications, she also wrote popular books that helped to educate audiences about FASD. She was the recipient of an NIH Merit Award, and her work garnered many prestigious honors from professional societies, academic institutions, and nonprofit groups such as FASD United.
The NIAAA community honors the rich scientific legacy left by Dr. Streissguth and wishes to convey condolences to her family and colleagues.