Charles R. Broderick, an alumnus of MIT and Harvard University, has made gifts to both alma maters to support fundamental research into the effects of cannabis on the brain and behavior.
The gifts, totaling $9 million, represent the largest donation to date to support independent research on the science of cannabinoids. The donation will allow experts in the fields of neuroscience and biomedicine at MIT and Harvard Medical School to conduct research that may ultimately help unravel the biology of cannabinoids, illuminate their effects on the human brain, catalyze treatments, and inform evidence-based clinical guidelines, societal policies, and regulation of cannabis.
Through the Broderick gifts to Harvard Medical School and MIT’s School of Science through the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Broderick funds will support independent studies of the neurobiology of cannabis; its effects on brain development, various organ systems and overall health, including treatment and therapeutic contexts; and cognitive, behavioral and social ramifications.
The gift to MIT from Broderick will provide $4.5 million over three years to support independent research for four scientists at the McGovern and Picower institutes.
Two of these researchers -- John Gabrieli, the Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research; and Myriam Heiman, the Latham Family Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the Picower Institute -- will separately explore the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia.
The Broderick gift provides $4.5 million to establish the Charles R. Broderick Phytocannabinoid Research Initiative at Harvard Medical School, funding basic, translational and clinical research across the HMS community to generate fundamental insights about the effects of cannabinoids on brain function, various organ systems, and overall health.
The research initiative will span basic science and clinical disciplines, ranging from neurobiology and immunology to psychiatry and neurology, taking advantage of the combined expertise of some 30 basic scientists and clinicians across the school and its affiliated hospitals.
To propel research findings from lab to clinic, basic scientists from HMS will partner with clinicians from Harvard-affiliated hospitals, bringing together clinicians and scientists from disciplines including cardiology, vascular medicine, neurology, and immunology in an effort to glean a deeper and more nuanced understanding of cannabinoids’ effects on various organ systems and the body as a whole, rather than just on isolated organs.