Alexandros Makriyannis (born September 9, 1939) is a professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he directs the Center for Drug Discovery, and holds the George Behrakis Chair of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. His research has focussed on the biochemical basis of the endocannabinoid system and on the development of synthetic cannabinoids.
Makriyannis studied chemistry at the University of Cairo. He then earned his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry at the University of Kansas and went on to research in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He worked at Smith, Kline & French Laboratories and Tufts Medical School and then at the University of Connecticut, where he was later appointed Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Pharmacology. He moved to Northeastern University in 2005.
Makriyannis is director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Northeastern University, which he founded in 2005. His work has identified the structure of cannabinoid receptors in the brain, helping to elucidate the psychoactive properties of some of these substances, and to point towards modifications in the receptors so as to retain the positive effects of cannabinoids while eliminating the negative ones. These studies have informed the development by Makriyannis and his collaborators of synthetic compounds with a view to their use as cannabinergic probes or as medications in drug addiction and in obesity and metabolic disorders. A later research interest has been the study of drug interactions with protein targets in membranes. His research has been reported in over 450 publications and his group has filed more than 40 patents.
Makriyannis has won two awards from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS Award in Drug Design and Discovery in 2002 and AAPS Distinguished Pharmaceutical Scientist Award in 2015) and two from the American Chemical Society (ACS Research Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicinal Chemistry in 2012 and ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame also in 2012). He won the Nathan B. Eddy Award for Excellence in Drug Abuse Research from The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Inc. in 2018, and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Crete and an honorary degree from the University of Athens.
- Rao S. Rapaka; Alexandros Makriyannis; National Institute on Drug Abuse (1987). Structure-activity relationships of the cannabinoids. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Rao S. Rapaka; Alexandros Makriyannis; Michael J. Kuhar (1991). Emerging technologies and new directions in drug abuse research. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Alexandros Makriyannis; Diane Biegel (2003). Drug Discovery Strategies and Methods. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8247-5767-0.
- “Alexandros Makriyannis”. Northeastern University College of Science. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- “Pioneer in Chemical Biology”. Ellines. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- “Alexandros Makriyannis”. Advancing Drug Development Forum. 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- “Alexandros Makriyannis, Ph.D.” American Chemical Society, Division of Medicinal Chemistry. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- “Cannabinoid receptor structure revealed”. National Institutes of Health (NIH). November 1, 2016.
- Singer, Thea (October 20, 2016). “Structure of the brain’s ‘marijuana receptor’ revealed”. News@Northeastern. Northeastern University.
- Perrier, Jean (October 19, 2017). “Peut-on fumer de l’herbe sans être stone ?” [Could we smoke weed without getting stoned?]. GQ France (in French).
- Davi, Christine Regan (August 3, 2018). “Can the opioid crisis be fixed?”. News@Northeastern. Northeastern University.
- Wesenberg, Sage (April 19, 2018). “World-renowned pharmaceutical researcher honored”. Northeastern University College of Science.
- Kiran Vemuri, V.; Makriyannis, Alexandros (2008). “Endocannabinoids and their Synthetic Analogs”. In Reggio, Patricia H. (ed.). The Cannabinoid Receptors. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 21–48. ISBN 978-1-59745-503-9.
- Stockton, Nick (July 6, 2017). “Scientists Map the Receptor That Makes Weed Work”. Wired.