hero image
Daniele Piomelli - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Daniele Piomelli Daniele Piomelli

Distinguished Professor | UC Irvine


Daniele Piomelli's research is focused on the function of lipid-derived messengers, with particular emphasis on endogenous cannabinoids.





loading image


Daniele Piomelli - Cannabis Science and Research Welcome Remarks by Professor Daniele Piomelli



Dr. Piomelli was trained in neuroscience and pharmacology. Research in his lab is focused on the function of lipid-derived messengers, with particular emphasis on the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. Current research efforts converge on three areas: formation and deactivation of anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol; physiological roles of the endogenous cannabinoid system; development of therapeutic agents that target anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol metabolism.

Primary neural cell cultures and state-of-the-art analytical techniques such as liquid chromatography/mass-spectrometry are used to investigate formation and deactivation of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol in brain cells. Protein purification and cloning approaches are employed to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. Cellular pharmacology and medicinal chemistry, in collaboration with leading international labs, are used to identify pharmacological agents that interfere with various aspects of endogenous cannabinoid function, and their therapeutic potential is explored in vitro and in vivo.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Anatomy & Neurobiology

Cellular Pharmacology




Accomplishments (4)

The Ester Fride Award for Basic Research (professional)

2017 The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines

The Mechoulam Award (professional)

2017 The International Cannabinoid Research Society

Avant-Garde Award for Innovative Medication Development Research (professional)

2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

European Lipid Science Award (professional)

2012 European Federation of Lipid Science

Education (1)

Columbia University: PhD, Pharmacology 1988

Affiliations (7)

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) : Member
  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) : Member
  • American Physiological Society (APS) : Member
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biolology (ASBMB) : Member
  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) : Member
  • International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) : Member
  • Society of Biological Psychiatry (SBP) : Member

Media Appearances (7)

CBD for schizophrenia

Project CBD  online


CBD appears to provide antipsychotic relief by raising the levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound that acts on the same brain receptors as THC. Curiously, in an earlier study, Daniele Piomelli, director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California in Irvine, discovered that people with schizophrenia had anandamide levels that were on average twice as high as mentally healthy people without the disorder. Some scientists speculated that perhaps people with schizophrenia were essentially too high on elevated levels of their own endocannabinoids! But in reality, it seems that the brain actually increases anandamide levels to buffer stress and ease the symptoms of psychosis. The preponderance of evidence suggests that the higher the anandamide levels are in people with schizophrenia, the less severe their symptoms.

view more

Using Cannabis During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of High Blood Sugar in Children

Healthline  online


“I am not surprised that prenatal exposure to cannabis has [an] impact on the offspring. In principle, any significant pharmacological intervention (and cannabis is surely one) may impact the newborn either directly (by affecting the fetus) or indirectly (by affecting first the mother and then the fetus),” Dr. Daniele Piomelli, the director of the University of California Irvine Center for the Study of Cannabis, told Healthline.

view more

What Is Delta-8?

U.S. News & World Report  online


Delta-8 has similar effects to marijuana but is less potent, says Daniele Piomeli, the director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California Irvine and director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Center of Excellence to study the impact of cannabinoids in adolescence.

view more

Science-Focused Emerald Conference To Meet In San Diego for The First Time Since Covid

Forbes  online


This year, the keynote speaker is Dr. Daniele Piomelli, Distinguished Professor of University of California Irvine. Piomelli will kick-off the conference on Monday, February 28.

view more

Let’s Break Down the New Cannabis and COVID-19 Research

Well + Good  online


A 2022 study published in the Journal of Natural Products suggests that two chemical components of Cannabis sativa (known as hemp) can block entry of the SARS-Cov2 virus into human cells, says Daniele Piomelli, PhD, director for the Center for the Study of Cannabis at University of California Irvine. Dr. Piomelli points out that the results are encouraging, but the study was done using cell cultures rather than live humans or even animals, "which is a limitation," he says. So can we count on cannabis as a COVID-19 cure or treatment at the moment? The study authors and Dr. Piomelli say no.

view more

Read This Before You Get Excited About Weed Preventing COVID

U.S. News & World Report  online


“THC and CBD have very, very broadly different effects,” Daniele Piomelli, the director of the University of California Irvine Center of Cannabis, said. If you lump THC and CBD together, people might get the wrong idea that smoking pot or taking edibles might protect them from COVID.

view more

The Cannabis Question



NOVA investigates the story of cannabis from the criminalization that has disproportionately harmed communities of color to the latest medical understanding of the plant. What risks does cannabis pose to the developing brain? How much do we know about its potential medical benefits? As cannabis becomes socially accepted, scientists are exploring its long-term health consequences.

view more

Articles (6)

Cannabinoid CB 2 Receptors Mediate the Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibition in a Rat Model of Predator-Induced Fear


2020 The endocannabinoid system is a key regulator of the response to psychological stress. Inhibitors of monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), the enzyme that deactivates the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG), exert anxiolytic-like effects in rodent models via 2-AG-dependent activation of CB1 cannabinoid receptors.

view more

Comparative Pharmacokinetics of Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Adolescent and Adult Male Mice

J Pharmacol Exp Ther.

2020 We investigated the pharmacokinetic properties of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, in adolescent and adult male mice. The drug was administered at logarithmically ascending doses (0.5, 1.6, and 5 mg/kg, i.p.) to pubertal adolescent (37-day-old) and adult (70-day-old) mice.

view more

N-Acylethanolamine Acid Amidase (NAAA): Structure, Function, and Inhibition

J Med Chem

2020 N-Acylethanolamine acid amidase (NAAA) is an N-terminal cysteine hydrolase primarily found in the endosomal-lysosomal compartment of innate and adaptive immune cells. NAAA catalyzes the hydrolytic deactivation of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), a lipid-derived peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPAR-α) agonist that exerts profound anti-inflammatory effects in animal models.

view more

Inhibition of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase in the CNS Prevents and Reverses Morphine Tolerance in Male and Female Mice

Br J Pharmacol

2020 Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is an intracellular serine amidase that terminates the signalling of various lipid messengers involved in pain regulation, including anandamide and palmitoylethanolamide. Here, we investigated the effects of pharmacological or genetic FAAH removal on tolerance to the anti-nociceptive effects of morphine.

view more

Benzisothiazolinone Derivatives as Potent Allosteric Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibitors That Functionally Mimic Sulfenylation of Regulatory Cysteines

J Med Chem

2020 We describe a set of benzisothiazolinone (BTZ) derivatives that are potent inhibitors of monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), the primary degrading enzyme for the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG). Structure-activity relationship studies evaluated various substitutions on the nitrogen atom and the benzene ring of the BTZ nucleus. Optimized derivatives with nanomolar potency allowed us to investigate the mechanism of MGL inhibition.

view more

Next Stop for Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Inhibitors, the Clinic?

Biol Psychiatry


view more