Professor Cameron Carter and Associate Professor Li Tian have been appointed as co-directors of the UC Davis Cannabis and Hemp Research Center by Vice Chancellor for Research Prasant Mohapatra. The center was established in 2019 by campus leadership based on recommendations from a multidisciplinary workgroup, which identified several research needs that UC Davis was uniquely positioned to address.
With support from legislative and legal advisors, Carter and Tian will provide strategic academic leadership to guide and support cannabis- and hemp-related research across the Davis and Sacramento campuses. Together, they will develop mechanisms to advance interdisciplinary collaborations across the campus, guide efforts to establish external partnerships and oversee initiatives to ensure compliance.
“I am thrilled to have two leaders representing our university’s expertise in agriculture and medicine, which are essential cornerstones of the center’s research,” said Mohapatra. “UC Davis is filling an important gap in the knowledge related to cannabis and hemp production, policy, use and testing through the center’s research, and these academic leaders will play a critical role in our global impact.”
Carter is the founding director of the UC Davis Imaging Research Center. He has held the Endowed Professorship in Schizophrenia Research and has served as director of the Schizophrenia Research and Education Program since 2006. Carter was the director of the Center for Neuroscience from 2009 to 2016 and is now the director of the UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. His clinical interests focus on the early diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders. His research seeks to understand how risk factors affect brain development and the emergence of symptoms in serious mental disorders in order to improve outcomes in people affected by them. This includes examining the effects of cannabis in the brain in vulnerable individuals, including those at risk for or already experiencing the symptoms of serious mental illness.
Tian is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, affiliated with the UC Davis Foods for Health Initiative and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Tian’s research focuses on how phytonutrients — natural chemicals with benefits for human health — are made and controlled in plants. Her lab also seeks to understand how phytonutrients aid in resistance to specific plant diseases. Tian previously isolated and characterized a key enzyme of the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway and identified multiple candidate genes affecting D9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, biosynthesis in Cannabis sativa. She is interested in understanding how the growth environment and management regime may affect the accumulation of phytochemicals in Cannabis sativa.
About the Cannabis and Hemp Research Center
The Cannabis and Hemp Research Center will serve as the university’s hub, bringing together scientists, engineers, scholars and clinicians involved in research related to cannabis and hemp at UC Davis.
As a leader in agriculture, plant science and veterinary medicine, with a top-ranked medical center and law school, UC Davis has an extensive research infrastructure in place to pioneer advancements in the knowledge of production, environmental and health impacts, testing, and applications for use of cannabis and hemp as well as to provide insight for social implications and public policy.
The center is designated as a Special Research Program under the administration of the Office of Research.