Mission and Goals
The Medical Cannabis Research Center (MCRC), initiated in 2020, is an innovative, multi-disciplinary center that fosters collaboration between Drexel University’s College of Medicine, Dornsife School of Public Health, and other colleges within the university.
It focuses on society’s most challenging health problems and addresses them through rigorous translational scholarship at the clinical and population health levels.
The primary center activities include:
- Community Engagement: The MCRC Community Advisory Board engages the local Drexel community in order to share scientific findings and employment opportunities stemming from a partnership with Agronomed Biologics, a leader in cannabis-related research.
- Scientific Collaboration: A Scientific Advisory Group, composed of Drexel and Agronomed scientists, advises the MCRC on the Patient Registry Study, Clinical Core, and awarding of Pilot Studies.
- Knowledge Generation: The MCRC awards between three and nine pilot study grants per year to generate innovative research in the area of medical cannabis and health.
- Dissemination: The MCRC disseminates knowledge generated by the Patient Registry Study, Clinical Core, and Pilot Studies to the broader scientific community. This takes the form of peer-reviewed publications, scientific presentations, and meetings.
The health conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis in Pennsylvania, which include opioid dependence and autism, stand as top population health problems in the U.S.
The MCRC applies a multi-level approach to researching health outcomes associated with Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program by focusing on translational science, clinical research, and public health. The MCRC engages faculty and students across Drexel University as well as citizens from surrounding neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
The MCRC provides input to two key funded initiatives: a Patient Registry Study and a Clinical Trials Core. The MCRC also leads efforts to evaluate and fund several pilot studies in the areas related to qualifying conditions under Pennsylvania medical cannabis program.
Towards this end, the mission of the MCRC is to conduct population, clinical, and translational science-based research studies on medical cannabis and disseminating this knowledge. This mission aligns with a key part of Drexel University’s mission to “focus our collective expertise on solving society's greatest problems.”
Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law (Chapter 20 of Act 16) stipulates that eight medical schools in Pennsylvania that operate or partner with an acute care hospital may become designated as an Academic Clinical Research Center (ACRC).
Drexel University became an approved ACRC in September 2018, which allows Drexel to partner with a Clinical Registrant (CR), a Pennsylvania-approved cannabis business operating in the state. In December 2019, Drexel signed an eight-year research contract with Agronomed Biologics (an approved CR) to conduct cannabis research under Pennsylvania’s cannabis law.
Currently, Drexel University is one of seven Pennsylvania universities that have an approved ACRC/CR partnership. The others are Penn State University; Thomas Jefferson University; University of Pennsylvania; Temple University; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Erie; and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The medical cannabis research program at Drexel University is an integrated set of research activities involving four entities:
- The Medical Cannabis Research Center is an overarching administrative entity that connects all aspects of the research program.
- The Patient Registry Study will operate continuously between 2020 and 2027 and serve to meet the criteria that an ACRC/CR partnership have an ongoing research study.
- The Clinical Research Core provides the personnel and administrative support to conduct clinical trials and other clinical research activities during the duration of this agreement. It leverages Drexel’s clinical expertise and the availability of patients with qualifying conditions for medical cannabis such as, but not limited to, HIV, neuropathies, and PTSD.
- Pilot Studies are funded on an annual basis to research and explore the effective use of cannabis to treat other qualifying conditions under Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law, e.g., autism, opioid dependence. Pilot studies leverage Drexel’s expertise in clinical research, public health, and translational science.
The medical cannabis research program at Drexel University furthers Argonomed Biologics’ goal of advancing health and wellness across Pennsylvania by conducting clinical, public health, and translational research on Argonomed Biologics patients and products. The results from these studies will be improve patient health, inform product development, and advance medical cannabis science more broadly.