American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
May 2009 Mentor of the Month: Marilyn Huestis
Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D

Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., is a tenured senior investigator and the Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. She directs a large research program that seeks to discover mechanisms of action of cannabinoid agonists and antagonists, effects of in utero drug exposure, and the neurobiology and pharmacokinetics of MDMA (Ecstasy). Her section also supports medication development projects including the use of buprenorphine as pharmacotherapy in opioid dependence. Dr. Huestis is the principal investigator of several phase I clinical studies evaluating 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 has served as a model for future research endeavors. Rimonabant was evaluated for the treatment of obesity and smoking cessation, but showed possibilities as a treatment for cannabis and other drug dependencies. Dr. Huestis also is investigating the effectiveness of buprenorphine and methadone for the treatment of opioid-dependent pregnant women and is the Intramural Research Program’s responsible investigator in a multi-center study of in utero methamphetamine exposure. Dr Huestis has more than 163 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, monographs and over 244 abstracts presented at national and international meetings. She 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 in Baltimore (with honors). She received 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 2007 for excellence in Clinical Toxicology, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ Rolla N. Harger Award for lifetime contributions in forensic toxicology in 2005, and the Irving Sunshine Award for Outstanding Research in Forensic Toxicology in 1992 for her research on cannabis. She was director of one of the first forensic urine drug testing laboratories among 150 applicants to be certified by NIDA. With this background and experience she serves on the World Anti-doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, was a member of the advisory board for U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s Research Advisory Panel and provides consultation for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. 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.