Pioneer in Chemical Biology
Famous Greeks

Pioneer in Chemical Biology

Dr. Alexandros Makriyannis is the George D. Behrakis Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Director of the Center for Drug Discovery. He is also Professor of both Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Prior to these appointments, he maintained a highly successful research and teaching program in Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut where he was a Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery.

Since the early stages of his career Dr. Makriyannis has been involved in developing novel methods for target-based drug discovery while also being a practitioner of the field by inventing novel compounds as probes or potential medications. Through his highly creative multidisciplinary work encompassing both chemistry and biology, Dr. Makriyannis has been a pioneer in chemical biology even before this designation was coined.

More recently, he has developed a novel multidisciplinary approach for studying drug interactions with membrane protein targets which he has named Ligand Assisted Protein Structure. This unique multidisciplinary approach combines the use of covalent ligands molecular biology and mass spectrometry. It has extensive applications in identifying the drug pharmacophores involved in protein target recognition and activation.

Dr. Makriyannis has also been very inventive and highly prolific. Many of his compounds with the characteristic AM designation are among the most popular pharmacological cannabinergic probes used by the scientific community.

As far as his education is concerned, he got his Bachelor of Philosophy in Chemistry in 1960 in the University of Cairo and his Ph.D (Medicinal Chemistry) in the University of Kansas. From 1967 to 1969 he was a Post-doctoral Fellow (Synthetic Organic Chemistry) in the University of California, Berkeley.

Makriyiannis has worked as a Senior Chemist for Smith, Kline and French Laboratories, in Philadelphia and as a Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Tufts Medical School, Boston. From 1972 to 1974 he was an Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. From 1985 to 1991 he was the Director and Founder at the Institute of Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, National Hellenic
Research Foundation (Greece). He became a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the University of Connecticut, Storrs (1986-2004) and the Director of the Drug Design Program; Critical Technologies Initiative, State of Connecticut. In 2003 he founded MAKScientific, a Drug Discovery Start-up. From 2004 until today he is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and George D. Behrakis Chair in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Director of the Center for Drug Discovery in Northeastern University, Boston.

He has won many awards and received many honors throughout his career, among which we can mention: Research Scientist Award, NIDA (1990-95; 1995-2000), President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) (1993), Senior Scientist NIDA Award (2000-2011), Research Achievement Award in Drug Design and Discovery by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) (2002), Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, University of Athens, Greece (2005), Kenneth E. Avis Award in Medicinal Chemistry (2007), Annual NU Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity (2012), ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (2013).