Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation will each be investing $500,000 over the course of five years to establish a health research chair in cannabis at UNB.
Expected to begin in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the purpose of this position is to study the medicinal applications of cannabis, as well as its biochemistry and pharmacology. Patients suffering pain from chronic treatment or PTSD will benefit from the further development of cannabis-based therapies, an innovation in the healthcare field.
This health research chair is the first in pharmacological sciences around the world.
“We believe in the power of research to advance innovation within New Brunswick. With 75 per cent of the province’s publicly funded research taking place at UNB, we’re thrilled to play a central role,” said David MaGee, UNB’s acting vice-president research, in a press release.
Edward Miller is vice-president of international relations and corporate communications at Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in cannabinoid-based drug research. He identified New Brunswick as a global leader in research related to cannabis health care products.
“[New Brunswick] is taking the role of pharmaceutical research and clinical research to provide clinical data—which health care professionals across the world will be able to use,” said Miller.
This is opposed to anecdotal evidence that marijuana works. Instead, said Miller, “now they’re focused on cannabis and developing this research to provide this clinical data and understanding, medically, what happens with cannabis.”
According to Bruno Battistini, CEO, president and scientific director of the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the research done by this health research chair will also provide opportunities for university students to work in botanical product research.
“When we provide chairs like this one, we provide the funding to recruit an outstanding academic health researcher that will be recruited as a faculty within the university—but that same person basically builds a pyramid of training and mentorship,” said Battistini.
Although the purpose of this research chair is not to study recreational cannabis, the federal government’s promises on upcoming legalization and overall support for cannabis-related research has played a role in establishing this new position.
“The government has been an integral part of opening up this industry and has been extremely supportive,” Miller said. “The health minister was at the launch [of the research chair] and they’ve been— the government, the foundation, the university—all have been really working together towards bringing this together.”
“At the end of the day, it was a visionary decision that says, ‘well, this is coming’.” said Battistini, regarding the provincial government’s role in establishing the research chair.
“They wanted to position the province in a strong position to capture potential return on investment when it comes to this legalization of cannabis.”