Among the focuses of the new Australian Research Council (ARC) Industry Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) for Medicinal Agriculture will be cannabis research.
The Australian Federal Government announced last week close to $5 million of funding for the Research Hub, which will be housed at La Trobe University’s Melbourne campus in Bundoora.
“The new ARC Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture will combine La Trobe’s exceptional research capabilities in the fields of agricultural and biomedical sciences, with the capabilities of our research and industry partners, to provide a much-needed evidence base around the growth and use of medicinal plants such as cannabis,” said La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar.
According to the project summary, the Hub will examine aspects from agronomy and cultivation, germplasm generation, novel extraction technologies and chemistries, through to the discovery and functional characterisation of novel compounds. The Hub will be led by Professor Tony Bacic, who has had a long career in plant sciences.
In addition to the $5 million of federal funds for the project, La Trobe has committed $10 million, and $6 million will be contributed by industry partners.
Among the industry partners is medical cannabis company Cann Group Limited (ASX:CAN).
Cann Group Limited relocated its corporate headquarters to La Trobe University’s Technology Enterprise Centre (TEC) in Bundoora in November last year. Last month it relocated again to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at La Trobe University, stating it would enable the company to continue its rapid expansion.
Cann was granted Australia’s first medicinal cannabis research licence in February last year, closely followed by the nation’s first medicinal cannabis cultivation licence in March 2017. One of Cann’s major investors is Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Inc, which has a 22.9% stake in the company.
The $5 million from the Federal Government was part of $180 million in new ARC funding announced last week for 132 new research projects across various sectors. Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, who announced the La Trobe funding, said the Hub was a major step forward for Australia’s developing medicinal agriculture industry.