Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It is with great sadness we must report the passing of Mary E. Abood, Ph.D. Mary passed away in her sleep on Sunday, February 19th, 2023.
Dr. Abood was a vibrant and brilliant researcher, conducting an active and productive research program in the cannabinoid field for well over 30 years. She was trained as a pharmacologist at the Pritzker Laboratory at Stanford University and received additional training in molecular biology and started her independent professional career at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1990. In 1999, Mary moved to California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute where she was a Senior Scientist, and she remained an Affiliate Associate Professor at VCU. In 2008, Dr. Abood moved to Temple University where she became an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Center for Substance Abuse Research and received tenure in 2011. Mary retired from her research pursuits on June 30, 2021.
Much of Dr. Abood's research was focused on the structure and function of cannabinoid receptors, including the localization, characterization of the downstream signaling pathways and identification of additional receptors on which cannabinoids exert their actions. Mary’s laboratory investigated the endocannabinoid system with a focus on its cellular receptors, making significant contributions throughout the cannabinoid field. Her lab cloned the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and identified some of the structural and concomitant functional features of these proteins, studies designed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of CB receptor action. Her work also focused on identifying novel cannabinoid receptor subtypes, efforts that led to the characterization of GPR55 and GPR18 as putative cannabinoid receptors. Mary was a Member of the IUPHAR Receptor Nomenclature Committee for Cannabinoid Receptors and she served on NIH study sections since 2005. Mary was generally recognized as one of the leaders in the field of the molecular biology of the cannabinoid receptors.
Mary advised, mentored and sponsored dozens of post-Doctoral Fellows, pre-Doctoral trainees, and undergraduates, from a diverse range of specialties and programs – including the University of West of England Scholarship Exchange Program, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, MCV Governor’s School for the Gifted, Minority High School Student Enrichment, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Temple University – and served on more than thirty thesis committees for students all over the world.
Mary said in an interview by The Cannabis Scientist in 2021, "I have been very fortunate to work with many talented colleagues and students over the years. That really is my luckiest break."
Dr. Abood was a foundational Member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society since 1991. She served as our ICRS Secretary from 2001 to 2004 and was our ICRS Treasurer from 2009 to 2011. She received our ICRS Mechoulam Award in 2015, for her many contributions to cannabinoid research.
Mary leaves behind her loving husband Dave Bieber and loving son Zach Abood-Bieber.
She will be dearly missed.
As a way to honor Mary’s career-long commitment to supporting women in science, Dr. Abood's family has requested that ICRS create the “Mary E. Abood ICRS Women in Cannabinoid Research Fund”. This fund will support women trainees and junior-level women scientists to allow them to be a part of the ICRS community through membership, conference, and travel support. This fund will also support travel and accommodations for a yearly plenary speaker by a woman in science at the annual ICRS conference.
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