Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, viewed as the most famous cannabis researcher in the world and a professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem died in Israel at the age of 92.
The news came from acquaintances and colleagues. “This is a very sad day for me, for the science community, and for the cannabis community,” said David Meiri, an associate professor at Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology.
Mechoulam has long been regarded as the Father of THC and the pioneer of cannabis research for having discovered and isolated tetrahydrocannabinol in 1963. In the following years, Dr. Mechoulam and his team of researchers went on to successfully study the structure of CBD.
In the 1980s, Dr. Mechoulam claimed that if cannabis was legalized, it could replace up to 20% of all pharmaceutical drugs. He continued to study minor cannabinoids throughout the following decades.
Scientist And A Pioneer
The life of Dr. Mechoulam was immortalized in the documentary “The Scientist.” Among his many achievements was the discovery of anandamide, an endocannabinoid that is named after the Sanskrit word meaning “supreme joy.”
A research project initiated by Dr. Mechouam led to the isolation of the first described endocannabinoid anandamide which was isolated and characterized by two of his postdoctoral researchers, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš and William Devane.
Likewise, 2-AG, another endogenous cannabinoid, was discovered by Shimon Ben-Shabat, one of his Ph.D. students, proving his contributions to the study of cannabis beyond his generation.
Dr. Mechoulam’s latest discovery was EPM301, or cannabidiolic acid methyl ester, also known as CBDa.
Life Of Achievements
Mechoulam’s achievements have earned him several awards and recognitions, including:
1999-2000: President, International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS).
2001: Honorary Doctorate from Ohio State University.
2003-2005: Chairman of the Board, International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM).
2006: Honorary Doctorate from Complutense University.
2011: NIDA Discovery Award.
2012: EMET Prize in Exact Sciences – Chemistry.
2016: Lifetime Achievement Award – CannMed
Born on November 5, 1930, in Sofia, Bulgaria Dr. Mechoulam studied chemical engineering and in 1949, he settled with his family in Israel where he studied chemistry.
Mechoulam’s father, a Holocaust survivor, was a doctor who was in charge of supervising the Jewish Hospital in Sofia. His mother, who studied in Germany, was an influential figure in his life exposing him to medicine, books and the arts, including theater and concerts.
In 1952 he received his M.Sc. in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in 1958 his Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. In addition, he did his postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute in New York between 1959 and 1960. Mechoulam also spent several years working as a teacher and rector in various schools.
In 1994 he was elected a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences. He also is one of the founding members of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines.
Until his final days, Dr. Mechoulam was the president of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research, the biggest cannabis research center in Israel and one of the few centers in the world conducting breakthrough research on cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and medical cannabis.
Image Credits: Panoramix303 on Wikimedia Commons and Dmytro Tyshchenko on Shutterstock Edited By Benzinga
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