March 18, 2020

Exploring Cannabis-Based Medicines and Tools (mCannabis) Program Funding Results

March 18, 2020 (Edmonton, Alberta) The results for Stream 1 of the mCannabis competition, launched in December 2019, have been announced.      

Stream 1 aims to enhance our understanding of Cannabis phytochemicals (i.e., cannabinoids and terpenoids) for pain.  In Canada, pain is one of the most common reasons for Canadians for engaging the health system.  Among the different pain types, chronic pain is the leading cause of morbidity and disability.  Approximately 1 in 5 adults (i.e., six million Canadians) experience chronic pain.  The economic burden of chronic pain is estimated between $50 – 60 billion per year in both direct and indirect costs.  Management of pain often relies on opioids; however, Canada faces a rise in opioid-related harms.  To this end, identifying and advancing novel pain management strategies for the treatment of pain is an urgent unmet clinical need. 

The mCannabis program is the first opportunity for medical Cannabis research and innovation in Alberta.  This is opportunity for stakeholders in Alberta’s Cannabis ecosystem to collaborate in a coordinated way to advance Cannabis research and innovations that aim to enhance patient care, improve patient outcomes, support training of health professionals, and responsibly grow Canada’s Cannabis industry.

Alberta Innovates acknowledges the collaborative support provided by Campus Alberta Neurosciences in launching this program.

  • 11 applications were received.  Five applications were selected for funding.
  • Applications were peer-reviewed by an academic panel consisting of scientists / clinicians from Canada (outside of Alberta) and the United States.  The panel was chaired by Dr. Mike Salter, Chief of Research at SickKids.
  • Total value for all five projects is ~$1.7 million with ~$1.5 million contributed from Alberta Innovates. 
  • Applicants contributed $140,000 cash through industry collaborations or other sources.  In addition, > $50,000 in-kind contributed by applicants.
  • Projects will run from March 2020 to March 2022.
  • The projects will examine ways that Cannabis can be used for pain management and how to understand their mechanisms using pre-clinical models.  

Below is a table that contains the successful lead applicants, institutions, project titles, and award amounts.  Alberta Innovates acknowledges all applicants that applied to Alberta’s first medical Cannabis research call for proposals.  An update for Stream 2 (i.e., post market data use) will be published separately. 

Lead ApplicantInstitutionProject TitleAward Amount
Declan Ali, PhDUniversity of AlbertaThe analgesic effects of cannabinoids and terpenoids on a zebrafish model for nociception and pain$300,000
Jason Dyck, PhDUniversity of AlbertaThe effects of cannabis on cognitive function and pain management$300,000
Aaron Gruber, PhDUniversity of LethbridgeNovel therapeutic potential of non-psychotropic cannabinoids in pain, inflammation, and depression$297,000
Tuan Trang, PhDUniversity of CalgaryDissecting the central actions of cannabis for treating neuropathic pain$294,328
Gerald Zamponi, PhDUniversity of CalgaryHarnessing cannabinoids and their derivatives for the treatment of pain and itch: from understanding mechanism of action to the development of new therapeutics$286,066

Visit the Exploring Cannabis-Based Medicines and Tools (mCannabis) Program web page for more information.


Sunil Rajput, PhD
Senior Business Partner – Health Innovation