The Harvey Prize is awarded for outstanding achievement in a wide variety of fields including science and technology, human health, and contributions to humanity
One of the most prestigious scientific awards, the Harvey Prize of Technion in chemical engineering and medical sciences, was awarded to Professor Raphael Mechoulam: the “godfather” of modern cannabis medicine. Professor Raphael Mechoulam, from the School of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is one of two recipients of the prestigious Harvey Prize for his groundbreaking research in the field of medicinal cannabis. His studies in this area have given the world a new perspective on cannabis as a medicinal plant, rather than just a recreational drug.
The Harvey Prize: A Precedent to the Nobel Prize!
Over the years, the Harvey Prize has become a reliable predictor of the famous Nobel Prize. Since 1986, over 30% of Harvey Prize winners have ultimately received the Nobel Prize. In fact, three of them - Professor Jennifer Doudna, Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier and Professor Reinhard Genzel - will receive the Nobel Prize this year!
Given his enormous contribution to medical studies of cannabis, we can only cross our fingers and hope that it will be the “Godfather” of cannabis research who will receive the Noble Prize in the next few years, or one that follows.
About Raphael Mechoulam
Professor Mechoulam was born in Bulgaria (1930), where he studied chemical engineering. After immigrating to Israel, he obtained his master's degree in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his doctorate from the Weizmann Institute. He also did postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute in New York. In 1960 he joined the junior staff of the Weizmann Institute, and in 1985 he became a professor at the Hebrew University.
It was his curiosity about cannabis as a medicinal plant that led him to a police station in 1963, where he obtained his first sample, 5 kilos of hashish, to be used for research purposes. Mechoulam then developed a relationship with employees of the Israeli Ministry of Health, who gave him permits to continue obtaining cannabis products for his studies over the following decades. As he casually sums it up, “I would always go to the health ministry, they would give me a letter to the police, go to the police and drink coffee with them, take the hashish I needed and that was it. all".
He is the first scientist to have isolated plant cannabinoids, first THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) then CBD (cannabidiol), and he is also the first to discover the human endocannabinoid system, which is a complex system of cellular signaling composed of receptors present throughout our body. These receptors respond to plant cannabinoids to treat the many conditions that we suffer from. All living things, except insects, have an endocannabinoid system.
The Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities congratulates Academy member Professor Raphael Mechoulam on being selected as recipient of the Harvey Prize 2019-2020 in the field of human health, awarded by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.