University of Newcastle gets $2.5 million to set up national medicinal cannabis research centre

Funding success: University of Newcastle clinical pharmacologist Professor Jennifer Martin will lead a national approach to medicinal cannabis research.

Funding success: University of Newcastle clinical pharmacologist Professor Jennifer Martin will lead a national approach to medicinal cannabis research.

Newcastle will lead the national approach to research into medicinal cannabis treatments.

The University of Newcastle has been granted $6 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council for various projects.

Of this money, $2.5 million was allocated to setting up a the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence.

Professor Jennifer Martin said the national infrastructure, governed from Newcastle, could "rapidly translate the [cannabinoid] research into practice and into policy".

Professor Martin, a clinical pharmacologist at UoN, will head-up the centre with Professor Nadia Solowij from the University of Wollongong.

The initiative is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Hunter-New England Health and teams from several universities across Australia.

"It's essentially saying we need a nationally integrated, collaborative framework, where as soon as we receive data from a variety of clinical trials with any of the cannabinoid products from around Australia, or indeed new data from overseas, we can rapidly translate that into policy and practice," she said.

Professor Martin said a coordinated, national strategy was "really important" in turning research into practice. It was particularly important, she said, to have a national, coordinated research and policy strategy across the states and commonwealth.

She expected, where evidence was shown, to see cannabinoid treatments “much more available in Australia within the next five years".

"We have had some community input from patients in the community that have access to cannabis and who have found that those products are helpful.

“We've had a lot of patients and family advocates that have really pushed that from the Hunter area. Now we need to get the supporting evidence to guide practice,” Professor Martin said.

"We're not just sitting up there in an ivory tower at the university - we're actually engaging already with the community. "

“We've got a community advisory group... but we've also got a very strong clinical network of lead clinicians around Australia with which to guide this centre."

As part of the $6 million funding allocation, the university also received money for several other projects, mostly fellowships for researchers across a range of medical fields.

The Herald, Newcastle

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