Dr. Kenner Rice, Chief of NIDA's Chemical Biology Research Branch, has received the 2007 Smissman Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS). The award recognizes significant contributions to fundamental knowledge in medicinal chemistry, and the ACS presented the honor to Dr. Rice in August at its National Meeting and Exposition in Boston. Dr. Rice's basic research on neurochemicals led to the development of compounds with the potential to prevent and treat drug addiction (for example, a medication that prevents cocaine self-administration in monkeys).
Dr. Rice joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1972 and NIDA in 2006. During his 35-year career at NIH, Dr. Rice mapped the location of cannabinoid receptors, demonstrated biochemical differences in the receptors of opioid-exposed animals, and determined how abused drugs affect brain cells. His research led to the discovery of a radiotracer that neuroscientists can use in imaging studies of opioid addiction. Dr. Rice designed and developed the NIH Opiate Total Synthesis, a practical method for the large-scale production of medicinal opioids and opioid blockers.