Profiles by Cannabiz Social Podcast - Dr. Igor Kovalchuck
This podcast had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, MD, PhD, and professor at the University of Lethbridge to talk about his research in the cannabis space and how he sees the space moving forward. Dr. Kovalchuk is also the founder of a medicinal plant and research and technology firm called Plantbiosis Ltd., and is a member of Sundial Growers Inc.’s management team.
Before coming to Canada from Ukraine, Igor was an MD and cancer researcher in Switzerland. Today he is a leading plant biologist and geneticist researching the medicinal properties of various plants.
“The research fascinated me, and I got a one-year scholarship in 1994. That’s where I joined professor George Thomas, which transpired into a PhD. I then began working with Dr. Barbara Hohn. She was working in plants and that’s how I switched from research in cancer to research in plants.”
The research he has conducted is devoted to the analysis of epigenetic and genetic regulation of plant genome stability under normal and stressful conditions and investigating how plants are able to acclimatize to constantly changing environments.
He spoke about the Section 67 license he holds from Health Canada. Basically, in Canada, research around regulated substances require permits and special license from narcotic divisions. He’s allowed to study and research, do extractions, analyze them, and import and export material.
Dr. Kovalchuk feels cannabis is a fascinating and misunderstood plant. People who’ve grown it for a long time, and recreational users know what it’s about. Others know little. By studying it, and how we understand it, it means there’s a purposeful combination of alkaloids in the plant that can do lots for us. The discrepancies in understanding is enormous.
“Its important plants are studied and the value is shown,” he noted if everything is done properly and we demonstrate all the value from labs and science, it adds great value to humanity.
Dr. Kovalchuk is hoping in 15 years, there’ll be a highly-developed medicinal recreation market and both of those will have retail approach where people can have varieties, and we’ll see boutique types growing similar products with unique smells, experiences, and taste.
Canada is leading the charge and there’s an opportunity to be first and best. For the entire country, we have to cherish this incredible opportunity to develop so much expertise.
For more about Igor and his research visit:
University of Lethbridge website: https://www.uleth.ca/artsci/biochemistry/biological-sciences