RIP: Billy Ray Martin

An absolute lion, perhaps even the dean, of exogenous cannabinoid pharmacology has passed away.
The obituary from the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch is here.

MARTIN, Dr. Billy Ray, 65, of Richmond, died Sunday, June 8, 2008. He was Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at VCU.

Billy Martin's scientific output was prodigious, with a majority of it focused on the pharmacological properties of the cannabinoids. His interest dated at least back to 1975 with the publication of this paper:

Martin BR, Dewey WL, Harris LS, Beckner J. Marihuana-like activity of new synthetic tetrahydrocannabinols. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1975 Sep-Oct;3(5):849-53.


Professor Martin spent the majority of his career at the Virginia Commonwealth University, most recently chairing the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. This department is an absolute powerhouse in the drug abuse fields, including such faculty as Balster, Beardsley, Lichtman and Wiley. Some readers will recognize these names as having contributed major observations to our understanding of exo- and endocannabinoid pharmacology and function. It is no accident that these studies were conducted, and these faculty assembled, in close proximity to Professor Martin.
A 2004 presentation from Professor Martin on cannabis dependence issues can be found on googlevideo here.

Professor Martin was to have received the Nathan B. Eddy award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in just 7 days.
Billy R. Martin will be sorely missed.
[h/t: writedit]

5 responses so far

  • juniorprof says:

    Billy R. Martin will be sorely missed.
    Indeed, he was/is a true giant of the field.

  • dajokr says:

    Very, very sad news. Billy was a very active collaborator and dear friend to many of my chemistry colleagues just south of VCU.
    65 is just way too young. I hope there will be an appropriate recognition/memorial at CPDD.
    what a tremendous blow to the research community.

  • writedit says:

    A true class act, outstanding mentor, genuine gentleman and colleague, and one of my favorite PIs. He was a role model to the very end.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    I have had the privilage and the pleasure to meet the young Billy Martin many years ago (1976) and to work with some of the big names in the cannabinoid field such as Raffi Mechoulam.
    Billy passed away too young and will be missed by all his colleagues and those who knew him.

  • leigha says:

    truly a tremendous loss in the field. i had the opportunity to meet him only once at a regional meeting, what a real class act. we will miss him dearly.

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