Looking for a New Job? Several Major Universities To Offer Cannabis Courses

Posted in BioBusiness, BioEducation

In a previous blog post, I wrote that several community colleges and lesser know universities were offering summer and/or continuing education classes about cannabis.  While these course offerings were impressive, most were community-based and specifically designed to support local cannabis growers and the emerging cannabis business in these locales.

More recently, however, several major universities including Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of Vermont and the University of California-Davis announced that they will offer courses designed to provide students and healthcare professionals with an understanding of the physiology, medical and legal implications of cannabis use.

And, quite surprisingly, Louisiana State University has entered into a private agreement with a Las Vegas-based biopharmaceutical pharmaceutical company GB Sciences to cultivate and supply cannabis for disease indications that the company plans to treat including chronic pain, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. While LSU entered into this agreement, it is not clear whether or not it relationship with GB Sciences may affect its sources of federal funding because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Nevertheless, it is becoming abundantly clear that academia sees an opportunity to get into the cannabis business one way or the other. Below is a sampling of the cannabis courses and seminars that are currently being offered.

The University of Vermont offers a medical marijuana and cannabis certification course for clinicians who want the latest information regarding medical cannabis and possible healthcare applications of the plant.

The Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University offers a seminar style course on the legalization of cannabis that will examine the social and historical backdrop of intoxicant prohibition, and assess the legal reforms and political debates now having an impact on the control and regulation of marijuana distribution and use.

The University of Washington offers a course for healthcare professionals on the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.

The University of California-Davis will offer a course to biology majors that will cover the biology of cannabis and cannabinoids as well as their physiological effects in multiple systems, underlying mechanisms and therapeutic values. It also will survey the history of cannabis use, cover the endocannabinoid system and discuss potential medical targets for cannabis and their relative effectiveness.

Finally, there is a big push at University of California at Los Angeles to create a research center to study the medicinal effects of cannabis on a variety of disease indications.


  1. http://cannabisscienceblog.com/2017/06/15/69/ accessed September 25, 017
  2. https://www.businessreport.com/article/lsu-finalizes-medical-marijuana-agreement-gb-sciences/ accessed September 25, 2017
  3. http://learn.uvm.edu/com/program/cannabis-science-and-medicine/ accessed September 25, 2017
  4. http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/academics/course-explorer/category/criminal-law/ accessed September 25, 207
  5. http://adai.uw.edu/mcacp/ accessed September 25, 2017
  6. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/physiology/ accessed September 25, 2017
  7. http://dailybruin.com/2017/05/23/editorial-ucla-must-build-marijuana-research-center-study-effects-of-legalization/ accessed September 25, 2017

Scientists and Science Writing

Posted in Career Advice

It should come as no surprise to most BioJobBlog readers that scientists are not known for their writing or literary skills. And, for the most part, graduate students in the life sciences receive little or no instruction or training in scientific writing. This wasn’t always the case. When I entered graduate school at the University Of Wisconsin way back in 1974, Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Department of Bacteriology at the time, insisted that all incoming graduate students take a semester-long course in scientific writing. Most of my peers thought it was a colossal waste of time but by the end of the semester we all knew how, in theory, to write a scientific paper, understood the peer review process and if nothing else could write something that resembled a scientific manuscript when asked to do so. I personally learned a lot during the course and thought it was extremely useful. 

I currently work as a freelance science/medical writer and I think the course has served me well throughout my career. In fact, while a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine, many of my colleagues would give me their RO1 applications to review for content, grammar and editing before submitting them to NIH. As the former Chairman of my department said to me after I asked him what he thought after reading my first grant application, “It is extremely well written from a literary standpoint”. Not exactly what I wanted to hear but maybe that explains why I am a science writer and no longer an academic. So it goes….!

The reason that I am rambling on about scientists and their poor writing skills is that things haven’t gotten much better over the 35 year since I took that mandatory writing course as first semester graduate student at UW. Based on my observations, graduate students are only asked to do original writing when preparing their theses and in some instances when writing manuscripts (which are usually re-written by their mentors).  What is even more troubling is that science undergraduate students do virtually no writing at all! How then do we expect graduate students and postdocs to successfully write grant application and manuscripts if they receive no formal training in science writing?

To that end, I came across an interesting, albeit humorous, post from Dr. Isis, who according to her bio is “a physiologist at a major research university working on some terribly impressive stuff. She blogs about balancing her research career with the demands of raising small children, how to succeed as a woman in academia, and anything else she finds interesting.” Like me, Dr. Isis, doesn’t think that scientists spend enough time teaching other scientists how to write. In the post she offers some ideas, tips and solution to this increasingly vexing problem! 

Basic Writing Resources for Basic Scientists

Dr. Isis does hot science. Hot, hot, caliente science. I feel like we have already established that, though.

Learning to do hot science has not been a trivial thing, but learning to write in the scientific arena was orders of magnitude harder. It’s still something that does not come easy for me and that I have had to practice to improve. I learned the first time I received my first crapvalanche of papers from a group of students that I am not the only one who has had trouble translating the suckquake of writing I learned in high school and as an undergraduate into successful scientific writing.

I wonder if scientific writing is something that we don’t spend enough time teaching pre-graduate school level students.  I know that in science courses I’ve taught that have required papers, the most formal instruction time I have been able to devote to writing is showing them this: 

Video 1: Strong Bad teaches us how to write a successful paper. Strong Bad is full of wisdom and has taught me about 90% of the awesome stuff I know. I’d encourage you to check him out here.

But, I digress. This long, overly drawn-out, unnecessary introduction had tweo purposes — 1) to give me an excuse to use Strong Bad in a blog. I <3 Strong Bad. 2) to point the following resource out to you.

This weekend someone showed me "Ask Betty: Grammar in College Writing." Ask Betty is run by the Department of English at the University of Washington and has all sorts of great information. It has a list of common editing symbols for those of us who edits papers and a lesson on common grammatical mistakes for those of us who are writing papers. I think this site could potentially be a fantastic resource for those of use who speak English as a second language. There’s a Q&A page with examples of phrases and discussion of whether they are well-written. There is also a resource page with links to external writing resources.

Addendum: While Dr. Isis offers a good self-help solution to the problem, perhaps it might be more useful if graduate students and postdocs are required to take formal science writing courses as part of their graduate training. Technology has advanced considerably since 1974 and students no longer have to take time out from their busy schedules to attend a bricks and mortar class like I did. The course could be offered online and students could complete it at their own speed. The growing number of foreign graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, whose primary language isn’t English, suggests that a course like this may be in the best interests of American science.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!

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