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Could ‘Godfather of cannabis’ be next Nobel Prize winner?



Professor Raphael Mechoulam was the first to isolate THC and CBD

A pioneering cannabis scientist has been awarded the esteemed Harvey Prize for his groundbreaking research into the cannabinoid system.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam – known as the ‘Godfather’ of cannabis research – was the first to isolate and identify several major plant cannabinoids, including THC, the major psychoactive compound and CBD.

His meticulous decades-long discoveries have impacted the medical understanding of the negative implications of drug abuse, as well as provided therapeutic promise to a wide range of diseases and conditions.

The Israeli scientist was awarded the Harvey Prize, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s most prestigious award, earlier this month for his work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Established in 1971 by Leo Harvey (1887-1973), the prize is awarded at the Technion each year for outstanding achievements in science and technology, human health, and significant contributions to humanity.

Over the years, the $75,000 prize has become a predictor of the Nobel Prize, with more than 30 percent of Harvey laureates since 1986 were ultimately awarded the Nobel.

Three of them – Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier, Professor Jennifer Doudna, and Professor Reinhard Genzel – are to receive the 2020 Nobel Prize this month.

Prof. Mechoulam was born in Bulgaria, where he studied chemical engineering. After immigrating to Israel he received his M.Sc. in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, and completed his postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute in New York.

In 1960 he joined the junior staff of the Weizmann Institute, and in 1985 he became a professor at the Hebrew University.

His numerous research studies and pioneering discoveries have, among other things, led research to the development of innovative treatments for epilepsy, MS, and pain relief.

Prof. Mechoulam has previously been the recipient of a myriad honors, including the Israel Prize in Exact Sciences – Chemistry (2000) and the Kolthoff Prize in Chemistry from the Technion.

In 2014, he was named one of the “World’s 50 Most Influential Jews” by the Jerusalem Post.


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