Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., Senior Investigator - Principal Investigators - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., Senior Investigator


Biomedical Research Center
251 Bayview Blvd. Suite 200 Room 05A-721
Baltimore, MD 21224

Voice: (443) 740-2524

Fax: (443) 740-2823


Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., Senior Investigator

Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section on-site page link

Ph.D. - Toxicology, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine Advisor: Dr. Edward Cone

M.S. - Clinical Chemistry, University of New Mexico

A.B. - Physiology and Biochemistry, Mount Holyoke College


Our current research efforts are focused on mechanisms of action of cannabinoid agonists and antagonists, effects of in utero drug exposure, and the neurobiology and pharmacokinetics of MDMA or Ecstasy. We conduct controlled drug administration studies in human drug users to investigate the pharmacodynamic effects of abused drugs and licit pharmacotherapies. The onset, peak, and duration of drug effects are correlated to the drug’s pharmacokinetics. We study the disposition of drugs and metabolites in a wide variety of biological fluids and tissues to provide a scientific database for interpreting drug concentrations in many alternative matrices. We utilize pharmacological tools such as the CB1-cannabinoid receptor antagonist rimonabant, the exogenous agonist Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol to probe the endogenous cannabinoid system. We currently are evaluating cannabis dependence, the development of tolerance after chronic cannabis exposure, and cannabis withdrawal. We have a strong research interest in the neurobehavioral, neurophysiological, and physical effects of in utero drug exposure to methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, and cannabis. We are determining whether there are fetal drug syndromes, analogous to the fetal alcohol syndrome, in neonates exposed in utero to drugs. We have recently found non-linear pharmacokinetics of MDMA within the recreational dose range and significant differences in MDMA half-lives between males and females. Our research group utilizes sensitive and specific liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatography mass spectrometry methods to address the problems of drug addiction and prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

Selected Publications:

  1. Desrosiers NA, Himes SK, Scheidweiler KB, Concheiro-Guisan M, Gorelick DA, Huestis MA. Phase I and II Cannabinoid Disposition in Blood and Plasma of Occasional and Frequent Smokers Following Controlled Smoked Cannabis. Clinical Chemistry. 2014 Feb 21. [Epub ahead of print]

  2. Himes SK, Concheiro M, Scheidweiler KB, Huestis MA. Validation of a Novel Method to Identify In Utero Ethanol Exposure: Simultaneous Meconium Extraction of Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters, Ethyl Glucuronide, and Ethyl Sulfate Followed by LC-MS/MS Quantification. Analytical Bioanalytical Chemistry. 2014 Jan 10. [Epub ahead of print]

  3. Concheiro M, Baumann MH, Scheidweiler KB, Rothman RB, Marrone GF, Huestis MA. Nonlinear pharmacokinetics of (±)3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its pharmacodynamic consequences in the rat. Drug Metabolism Disposition. 2014 Jan;42(1):119-25.

  4. Scheidweiler KB, Huestis MA. Simultaneous Quantification of 20 Synthetic Cannabinoids and 21 Metabolites, and Semi-quantification of 12 Alkyl Hydroxy Metabolites in Human Urine by Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A. 2014 Jan 31;1327:105-17.

  5. Himes SK, Scheidweiler KB, Beck O, Gorelick DA, Desrosiers NA, Huestis MA. Cannabinoids in exhaled breath following controlled administration of smoked cannabis. Clinical Chemistry. 2013 Dec;59(12):1780-9.

  6. Wohlfarth A, Gandhi AS, Pang S, Zhu M, Scheidweiler KB, Huestis, MA. Metabolism of Synthetic Cannabinoids PB-22 and its 5-Fluoro Analog, 5F-PB-22, by Human Hepatocyte Incubation and High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. In Press.

  7. Concheiro M, Lee D, Lendoiro E, Huestis MA. Simultaneous quantification of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabinol in oral fluid by microflow-liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry. Journal Chromatography A. 2013 Jul 5; 1297:123-30.

  8. Himes SK, Stroud L, Stroud LR, Scheidweiler KB, Niaura RS, Huestis MA. Prenatal Tobacco Exposure, Tobacco Biomarkers in Meconium and Neonatal Growth Outcomes. Journal of Pediatrics. 2013 May;162(5):970-5.

  9. Bergamaschi MM, Karschner EL, Goodwin RS, Scheidweiler KB, Hirvonen J, Queiroz RHC. Huestis MA. Impact of prolonged cannabinoid excretion in chronic daily cannabis smokers' blood on "per se" drugged driving laws. Clinical Chemistry. 2013 Mar;59(3):519-26.

  10. Hartman RL, Huestis MA. Cannabis Effects on Driving Skills. Clinical Chemistry. 2013 Mar;59(3):478-92.

About Dr. Huestis's...

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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