Prof Mike Dixon is the director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility and lead a team of researchers investigating the contributions of plants to human life support in space. His faculty is one of the world's leading programs for research and technology development in the field of biological life support including technology transfer to terrestrial agri-food industries.
Dr. Dixon: What do I like…? Well, Cadillacs, ancient scotch, curious students, teaching, always asking what if, and challenging the limits of what’s possible with medicinal plant research. That’s a start.
Dr. Dixon: It’s 1974 and I'm a plant biology undergrad at Mount Allison University, and I’m behind the president’s residence doing what had to be one of the first legal projects on cannabis in Canada. The local RCMP’s crime lab even approved it. It just wasn’t being researched then, though. Imagine the head start we could’ve had, though. Forty years later, I’m giving a conference paper on our space research and it catches the ear of former AbCann Medicinals’ CEO Ken Clement. He asks questions and one thing leads to another…
Dr. Dixon: Because it’s the wild west out there. There’s no standard for production of medicinal plants, particularly cannabinoids. The phyto-pharmaceutical sector, of which cannabis is a part, provides a significant opportunity for the application of our controlled environment technologies to produce medicines - like the production of cancer drugs from tobacco plants. This is important stuff that improves life.
Dr. Dixon: Everything. Cannabis has been recreationally legal since October 17, 2018 and soon after there's a vaping epidemic that’s puzzling the Centers for Disease Control. We have no research on consumption, especially at that strength. So now we have a serious public health concern. We need the highest calibre cannabis research on everything from production to clinical trials. And we need it now. You see the same in tobacco research, but even there we’re investigating its beneficial applications for cancer care. Now that medicinal plant research is fully legitimized, it needs a significant validating research home, a comprehensive hub for the highest quality international medicinal plant research.
Dr . Dixon: A centre like ours must be housed at a major research institution with all pieces of the puzzle-and I mean all-so that will apply the finest research infrastructure to develop production strategies that yield standardized medicines.
The OAC at the University of Guelph is just that place. We do everything-horticulture, food and animal science, pest management, grow food in space, even. We can be the world’s destination for medicinal plant research. We should be leading this-worldwide. We have the best knowledge, technology, and talent to take on this challenge. It’s ours to lose.
March 11, 2020, Indorgro Founder, Brad Rubin and Dr. Mike Dixon meet at University of Guelph and agree on the next mission.
The challenge of space exploration has yielded unique technologies for cannabis production.
Collaborations between breeders and producers will provide a standardized pharmaceutical grade commodity
This videos displays the EDEN ISS greenhouse and offers insight into the complex systems of the aeroponic garden placed in Antarctica. The animation shows where the greenhouse is placed next to the German Neumayer III Station in Antarctica, how and what is grown in the grenhouse and which vegetables are being planted.
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