Pitt Names UM Researcher, Oxford Entrepreneur a ‘Legacy Laureate’

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Pittsburgh has named Mahmoud A. ElSohly, a University of Mississippi researcher, as one of its 16 new Legacy Laureates, alumni recognized for their outstanding personal and professional accomplishments.

ElSohly, a professor of pharmaceutics in the UM School of Pharmacy and research professor in the school’s National Center for Natural Products Research, “has commanded a distinguished career in biochemical pharmacology,” said a Pitt news release.

At UM, he is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Marijuana Project. Begun in 1968, the project boasts the longest-running contract in National Institutes of Health history.

“Dr. ElSohly is an exceptional researcher,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director. “His consistent record and leadership in research throughout his career here are truly remarkable, as is his standing in the scientific community, so it doesn’t surprise any of us that his alma mater has named him a ‘Legacy Laureate.’”

ElSohly, who earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Pitt’s School of Pharmacy in 1975, also is founder, president and laboratory director of ElSohly Laboratories Inc., a multifaceted lab that provides commercial and governmental clients with analytical drug testing services and advice.

He has worked on many projects to advance human health and alleviate suffering, including a vaccine to protect people with severe allergies to poisonous plants, as well as drugs that stimulate the appetite of patients being treated for cancer or AIDS. ElSohly and his wife, Hala, also a 1975 Pitt graduate, were key investigators on the Mississippi team that cultivated a Chinese plant here and isolated the antimalarial drug artemesinin, allowing the World Health Organization to create clinical supplies of the drug for its first trials in the Western world.

A fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, American College of Forensic Examiners International and American Institute of Chemists, ElSohly has been recognized by The Scientist, Science Watch and the Journal of Analytical Toxicology as one of the world’s most cited authors in forensic sciences. He has presented at more than 200 scientific meetings of professional societies and holds more than 20 patents.

Among Pitt’s other 2011 laureates are the late William S. Dietrich II, who gave Pitt a historic $125 million, a retired BP America president who helped build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a Pennsylvania congressman, one the nation’s leading appellate attorneys, the COO of the nation’s largest nonprofit Catholic health system, the CEO of one of the nation’s largest outpatient rehabilitation networks, and Pitt’s chancellor, provost and a retired faculty member who developed Pennsylvania’s child-welfare training program.

The 2011 laureates were honored with a dinner and awards ceremony during Pitt’s homecoming festivities.

For more information about the UM School of Pharmacy, call 662-915-7265 or visit http://www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu.