Cannabinoid researchers join forces

3 May 2017

The University of Sydney and Thomas Jefferson University have officially agreed to collaborate on education and research on the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids. 

Prof Iain McGregor

Professor Iain McGregor

Both universities have dedicated centres, supported by the generous funding of the Lambert family, to conduct their work on medicinal cannabis.

“This is an exciting opportunity for a game-changing research collaboration in the medicinal cannabinoid space, particularly in identifying novel cannabis-derived treatments for epilepsy, pain and metabolic disorders,” said Professor Iain McGregor, a director of the Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre.

Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), located in Philadelphia, has long been recognised as a leader in healthcare education and medical research and strives to develop innovative training programs through its Institute for Emerging Health Professions. The recent launch of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp within that Institute adds to this focus.

Professor Charles Pollack, the director of the TJU Center, said “I’m delighted that we are drawn closer by the foundation of these centres and this agreement to explore co-operation and shared interests. There is global interest in the best use of medicinal cannabinoids,and that is best served by global collaborations.”

The two Lambert research centres will explore collaborations on such areas as:

  • clinical trials of extracts of cannabis plants (including marijuana and hemp) as adjuncts or alternatives to conventional prescription medications in treating and preventing disease
  • academic exchange to facilitate the training of scientists and clinicians in the cannabinoid scientific space
  • educational programs for physicians, other medical professionals, and the public.


This is an exciting opportunity for a game-changing research collaboration in the medicinal cannabinoid space
Professor Iain McGregor, Lambert Initiative

Barry and Joy Lambert donated $33.7 million to create the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative in 2015, and in 2016 they supported the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp in the US with a US$3 million donation. 

Regarding this new collaboration, Mr Lambert remarked, "I am very pleased to learn of this development. It was always intended that the Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney would, where practical, work with the brightest and best people around the world.  The US has a different regulatory regime and hopefully this new level of cooperation between Thomas Jefferson and the University of Sydney will assist in reducing the time to market for those who may benefit from cannabis-based treatments."

The Lambert Initiative is focusing its efforts on basic science and select clinical projects aimed at developing novel cannabis-based therapies for epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, obesity and anorexia, dementia and mental health problems.

The Lambert Initiative is surveying existing users of medicinal cannabis products for their effectiveness. Currently, in partnership with Epilepsy Action Australia, it is investigating community use of cannabis-based extracts to treat children with severe epilepsy in the PELICAN (Paediatric Epilepsy Lambert Initiative Cannabinoid Analysis) study

Thomas Jefferson University is the first health sciences university in the US to provide a comprehensive academic resource for education, research, and practice in the use of cannabinoids as medicinal therapy.  The goals of the Lambert Center include providing expert information to clinicians and patients, becoming a networking hub for multinational research, and supporting the development of best-in-breed clinical and business approaches within the emerging medical cannabis industry.

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