Colorado State University plans to open a new cannabinoid research center with a $1.5 million gift from an alumna.
The money will fund research, operating expenses and instrumentation for the center. CSU researchers will be able to explore the myriad compounds in hemp, as well as test products created by Panacea Life Sciences, a CBD company owned by donor and alumna Leslie Buttorff.
The new center will be housed in the College of Natural Sciences and will focus on research into the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
Melissa Reynolds, professor of chemistry and associate dean for research in the College of Natural Sciences, said the center will be a state of the art facility. The main research focus will be around isolating cannabinoids, understanding what they do and creating formulations of the molecules that can be used for different medical applications.
“What we do know about probably one of the most common cannabinoids is that it has been demonstrated to have a variety of different types of effects,” Reynolds said. “But there's actually over a hundred different cannabinoids that have not been explored to the same extent. And so the possibility of what these small molecules can do or could potentially do — it's really limitless at this point.”
Buttorff graduated from CSU in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in statistics. She’s now the CEO of Panacea Life Sciences, which produces THC-free CBD products for humans and pets. The new research center will be part of a partnership between the university and Panacea.
“A couple of the things that we want to do is we want to make sure science is behind our products along with testing and formulation. But also, we see a lot of benefits of the hemp plant. Everybody knows about THC and CBD, but there's all the other cannabinoids,” Buttorff said. “We wanted to start looking at those other cannabinoids. This research center will have the tools to be able to do that. And that will feed into our product formulations and research that we do here on the clinical side.”
This isn’t the first time she’s donated to CSU. Buttorff has also funded a scholarship for women studying statistics at the university. But she saw this donation as way to help make CSU a leader in the industry.
Reynolds said after the announcement was made earlier this week, she received dozens of emails from undergraduate and graduate students who are excited about the new facility and would like to be part of the research.
“Someone had a positive experience at CSU, they're giving back in a positive way, and the students are really excited about it and are ready to be engaged,” Reynolds said. “If we could open the door tomorrow, we would have a line out the lab with people interested in becoming involved in this very exciting field.”