Prof. Marilyn Huestis

Prof. Marilyn Huestis, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, and University of Maryland, USA


Professor Dr. Dr. (h.c.) Marilyn A. Huestis is a tenured senior investigator and Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, IRP, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland. She thoroughly enjoys mentoring doctoral students in Toxicology, has to date directly overseen the research of 11 distinguished new toxicologists, and currently has 7 students pursuing their dissertation research. Her research program seeks to discover mechanisms of action of cannabinoid agonists and antagonists, effects of in utero drug exposure, and the neurobiology and pharmacokinetics of designer drugs, the emerging face of drug abuse. Professor Huestis is focused on new medication targets for cannabis dependence, including oral tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Sativex, a 1:1 ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. She is interested in the disposition of drugs and metabolites in a wide variety of biological fluids and tissues following controlled drug administration; data that provide a scientific database for interpreting drug concentrations in alternative matrices. Professor Huestis was the first to evaluate the effects of the CB-1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist rimonabant in cannabis users. She directed the first clinical Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA) for the Intramural Research Program that serves as a model for future research endeavors. Recently, Professor Huestis and colleagues documented that CB1-cannabinoid receptors are significantly down regulated in specific brain regions in chronic daily cannabis smokers, but these receptors significantly increased with sustained cannabis abstinence. Residual active cannabinoids could be quantified for up to 24 days in chronic smokers during sustained abstinence and, furthermore, psychomotor impairment was documented in these same subjects for at least 21 days. An area of special interest for Professor Huestis is investigating the effects of in utero drug exposure on child development and whether concentrations of drugs and/or metabolites in meconium predict adverse outcomes of in utero drug exposure. She has published 312 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and over 335 abstracts were presented at national and international meetings. Professor Huestis received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College (cum laude), a master’s degree in clinical chemistry from the University of New Mexico (with honors), and a doctoral degree in toxicology from the University of Maryland (with honors). Professor Huestis received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki in Finland in 2010. Other important awards including The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) Alan Curry Award in 2010, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Outstanding Contributions in a Selected Area of Research Award in 2008, the International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology (IATDMCT) Irving Sunshine Award in 2007, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ Rolla N. Harger Award in 2005, and the Irving Sunshine Award for Outstanding Research in Forensic Toxicology in 1992. The journal Clinical Chemistry recently featured her as an “Inspiring Mind”. She currently serves on the World Anti-doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, White House Forensic Science Subcommittees on Education, Ethics, and Terminology and Research, Development, Technology and Evaluation Interagency Working Groups (IWGs), the Scientific Working Group on Toxicology (SWG-TOX), Transportation Research Board Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs, and the National Safety Council’s Alcohol, Drugs and Impairment Division Executive Board. Professor Huestis is past president of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, past Chair of the Toxicology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the first woman president of The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists.