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World-renowned pharmaceutical researcher honored

With over four decades of research in endocannabinoids, the biochemical systems which regulate functions around addiction, pain, and neurodegeneration, Northeastern Chemistry and Chemical Biology Professor and George Behrakis Chair of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Alex Makriyannis has made a name for himself in the discovery of this important system and the pharmacological advancements that can come out of it. This spring, in recognition of his vital research, Makriyannis is being named the 2018 Nathan B. Eddy Awardee by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) and will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate degree by the University of Crete’s School of Medicine. Makriyannis came to Northeastern in 2005 to start the Center for Drug Discovery which consists of several different labs studying medicinal and synthetic chemistry, the biochemistry of compounds for potential drugs, and the biophysics of drug molecule interactions. After his lab contributed to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the 1980s, Makriyannis has continued to be funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) for many years and has produced many compounds that are used universally as probes to discovery the different aspects of the physiology of the endocannabinoid system. The lab hopes to modulate the system through monitoring its receptors or enzymes to help reduce pain, inflammation, and the treatment of addiction and neurodegenerative diseases.  

Next month, Makriyannis will visit Greece to receive his Honorary Doctorate from the University of Crete. This honor is given to scientists of Greek descent who have contributed to their field. In receiving this degree from the School of Medicine, Makriyannis will be recognized for his contributions in biology and medicine and the discovery of new medications to combat pain, addiction, and more. This is Makriyannis’ second honorary degree from Greece. He received his first from the University of Athens for his work in pharmaceutical sciences.  

“I’m really looking forward to this,” he said. “I have a soft spot for the University of Crete because they’re very committed to research there, and I’d consider them the best university in Greece.” 

Makriyannis’ travels will continue in June when he travels to San Diego to receive the Nathan B. Eddy Award. This is a senior award for the CPDD organization, a group that addresses problems of drug dependence and abuse in the United States and advises the government on policy decisions around drug abuse. The award is in memory of Nathan B. Eddy, a pioneer in drug dependence research. Today, it is awarded to those who have completed outstanding research efforts to improve knowledge on drug dependence.  

“The role of the organization is to study the addiction phenomenon and work on approaches to deal with it, which is a lot of what we’re working on too,” Makriyannis said. “It’s an exciting award because it recognizes good contributions from our lab.” 

Congratulations to Professor Makriyannis, we look forward to seeing your research continuing to new levels of success! 

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