MECHOULAM, RAPHAEL (1930– ), Israeli organic chemist. Mechoulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He received his M.Sc. in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1952) and his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, Reḥovot (1958). After postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute, New York (1959–60), he was on the scientific staff of the Weizmann Institute (1960–65) before moving to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he became professor (1972) and Lionel Jacobson Professor of Medicinal Chemistry from 1975. He was rector (1979–82) and pro-rector (1983–85). His main research interests concern the chemistry and actions of Cannabis sativa (marijuana) constituents and related substances (endocannabinoids) synthesized naturally in body tissues, particularly in the nervous system. This work has important implications in physiology, as the endocannabinoids represent a new type of neuromodulators, and in medicinal chemistry, as these compounds are exploited for their actions in psychiatric, neurological, and inflammatory diseases and as appetite-promoting agents. In 1994 he was elected a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences. His honors include the Kolthof Prize in chemistry from the Haifa Technion (1994) and the Israel Prize in chemistry (2000).
[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]