UC San Diego CTRI Center for Life Course Research Cannabis Symposium Draws Crowd

Cannabis Across the Life Course Organizers

Left to Right: Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH; Dilip Jeste, MD; Terry Jernigan, PhD

April 14, 2016

“Cannabis Across the Life Course: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know,” a special symposium hosted by the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) Center for Life Course Research, drew 150-plus researchers, medical staff and members of the public on April 13. The event took place at the UC San Diego School of Medicine campus. Among the topics presented and discussed were developmental effects of cannabis in animal models and human studies, breastfeeding exposure, use in older populations, substance abuse treatments and future research.

“It is important to study the effects of cannabis on all phases of life, from fetal development to older populations – and its potential for treating disease,” said Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at UC San Diego. “This symposium brought together a range of experts, from cognitive science and neuroscience researchers, to pediatrics and addiction behaviors scientists, to begin the discussion.” Chambers added that societal attitudes over cannabis use in the U.S. are undergoing shifts, resulting in a decline in perceived risks, which makes the symposium theme especially important. She co-directed the event with Dilip Jeste, MD.

Chambers gave the welcome and an overview of life course research relevant to health, and presented a talk about the health risks of prenatal exposure to cannabis. Her talk was among 10 during the half-day event, which focused on health risks of cannabis across the life course, as well as human health benefits of cannabis. Terry Jernigan, PhD, a professor of cognitive science and director of the Center for Human Development at UC San Diego, provided an overview of the ABCD Study, a nationwide, long-term study of cognitive and brain development in children. ABCD, which stands for Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, is following 10,000 healthy children, aged 9-10, for a decade. Jody Corey-Bloom, MD, PhD, a professor emeritus in neurosciences, discussed short-term effects of cannabis on spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Bloom has spent a career studying and treating neurodegenerative conditions.

The event was co-sponsored by the CTRI Center for Life Course Research; the Center for Better Beginnings; the Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital; the UC San Diego Institute of Public Health; The Center for Healthy Aging and the Stein Institute for Research on Aging; and the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

View symposium presentations.

Read more about the Center for Life Course Research

Read and view the KPBS story about the symposium, UC San Diego Holds Meeting on Gaps in Marijuana Research.

Read the San Diego Union-Tribune article about the symposium, How marijuana affects babies to adults; Symposium at UC San Diego goes over latest scientific evidence about medical uses of pot.