Mark Wentland

Professor Emeritus, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Mark Wentland began his career in drug discovery in 1970 when he joined the medicinal chemistry department at Sterling Winthrop Inc.  During his 24 years at Sterling Winthrop, he held various scientific and administrative leadership positions and was also Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he taught over 30 graduate-level organic and medicinal chemistry courses. In 1994, he joined the chemistry faculty at Rensselaer as Professor of Chemistry.  Following his retirement at the end of 2015, he was appointed to the position of Professor Emeritus. Since 1997, he holds the concurrent position of Adjunct Professor - Center for Neuropharmacology & Neuroscience at Albany Medical College.

Samidorphan -  Discovery of a Medication Currently in Late-stage Development:  At Rensselaer, Professor Wentland led several NIH-funded research programs in medicinal chemistry aimed at identifying novel, long-acting oral agents to treat central nervous system disorders.  This research yielded over 50 publications, 20 issued US Patents and in four drugs entering clinical trials. One of these drugs, the highly potent mu opioid receptor antagonist samidorphan, has undergone extensive clinical testing.  Two combination medications containing samidorphan are currently in late-stage development - ALKS 5461 (samidorphan in combination with buprenorphine) and ALKS 3831 (samidorphan in combination with olanzapine) have potential for treating patients with major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, respectively.


PhD: Rice University, 1970, Organic Chemistry

BS: Central Connecticut State College, 1966, Chemistry

Research Focus
  • Medicinal Chemistry
Select Works
  • For the first published account of the drug, samidorphan see: Wentland, M. P.; Lu, Q.; Lou, R.; Knapp, B. I.; Bidlack, J. M. "Synthesis and opioid receptor binding properties of a highly potent 4-hydroxy analogue of naltrexone." Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2005, 15, 2107-2110.
  • Wentland, M. P.; Lou, R.; Lu, Q.; Bu, Y.; Denhardt, C.; Jin, J.; Ganorkar, R.; VanAlstine, M. A.; Guo, C.; Cohen, D. J.; Bidlack, J. M. "Syntheses of novel high affinity ligands for opioid receptors" Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2009, 19, 2289–2294.
  • Conroy, J. L.; Fang, C.; Gu, J.; Zeitlin, S. O.; Yang, W.; Yang, J.; VanAlstine, M. A.; Nalwalk, J. W.; Albrecht, P. J.; Mazurkiewicz, J. E.; Snyder-Keller, A.; Shan, Z.; Zhang, S.; Wentland, M. P.; Behr, M.; Knapp, B. I.; Bidlack, J. M; Zuiderveld, O. P.; Leurs, R.; Ding, X.; Hough, L. B. "Opioids Activate Brain Analgesic Circuits Through Cytochrome P450/Epoxygenase Signaling." Nature Neuroscience, 2010, 13, 284-286.
  • For a complete list of publications, see SciFinder or PubMed.