The University of New Brunswick in Canada has announced the hiring of its first research chair to focus exclusively on the health benefits of cannabis. Yang Qu will serve as the cannabis health research chair and assistant professor at the university, according to media reports. The new position is being funded by pharmaceutical company Tetra Bio Pharma of Toronto and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation.

Qu spent the last five years at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario researching the Madagascar periwinkle, developing synthesized versions of chemicals found in the plant for use in chemotherapy. He told the CBC that he will draw on the experience leading that research to study the potential health benefits of cannabis.

“We know something about the medicinal value of cannabinoids, about the major two cannabinoids, THC and CBD,” Qu said. “The information about other cannabinoids that also accumulate in the plant are very scarce, so this is an area that we need to study.”

Synthesizing Cannabinoids

Qu said that particular genes in cannabis are responsible for the production of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

“We could transfer these genes from the cannabis plant and into different kind of microorganisms. Potentially you could produce very pure compounds,” Qu said.

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