The Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year award went to Daniele Piomelli from the School of Medicine for his innovative research on the body’s endocannabinoid system and how cannabinoids — compounds from the cannabis plant — can affect hunger, immune response, memory, metabolism and neurotransmission. He has also been involved in the formation and financing of more than five companies.

“I am speechless,” said Piomelli. “I think this award actually belongs to all the people that throughout the 20-plus years that I’ve been a faculty here at UC Irvine have been — in my lab and outside my lab — instrumental to the work you have so kindly highlighted today. These are my students and postdocs who have worked on the technologies that have given rise to the companies that were so kindly mentioned.”