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. In 1994, he left Sterling-Winthrop and joined the chemistry faculty at Rensselaer as Professor of Chemistry.  Following his retirement from Rensselaer 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 drugs 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 sponsored by our licensing partner Alkermes, Inc..  New Drug Applications (NDAs) for two combination medications containing samidorphan have been filed with the US FDA. These are ALKS 3831 (samidorphan in combination with olanzapine) and ALKS 5461 (samidorphan in combination with buprenorphine). They have potential for treating patients with schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder (ALKS 3831) and major depressive disorder (ALKS 5461).


PhD: Rice University, 1970, Organic Chemistry

BS: Central Connecticut State College, 1966, Chemistry

Research Focus
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Drug Discovery
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.