Published on May 29th, 2023 | by University of Mississippi


University of Mississippi Pharmacy Alumnus Tapped as Cannabis Center Director

Robert Welch welcomes ‘unique opportunity’ in cannabis research

The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy has hired Robert Welch, a 2002 alumnus, as director of the school’s National Center for Cannabis Research and Education.

“I am excited about Dr. Welch’s leadership and his passion for the work,” said Donna Strum, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “His experience in both pharmacy and business will help the center develop strategic partnerships to serve the state and advance our initiatives in medical cannabis.”

The NCCRE was founded in 2022 and builds upon the work of the National Center for Natural Products Research and the pharmacy school.

“We are happy to welcome Dr. Welch to the leadership team, as he brings valuable experience that is necessary to make this center a success,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director.

Welch earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the university in 2000 and his doctoral degree in 2002. Post-graduation, he completed a pharmacy practice residency before working in both hospital and retail pharmacy.

In 2008, he joined the pharmaceutical industry as a medical science liaison and worked with clinical trial sites and the medical community in various therapeutic areas, including diabetes, oncology, epilepsy, and obesity.

In the last six years with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, formerly GW Pharmaceuticals, Welch worked with clinical trial sites to study the use of cannabidiol in patients with severe epilepsy syndromes.

His collaboration with epilepsy centers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Alabama Children’s Hospital, and others helped garner FDA approval for the cannabidiol oral solution Epidiolex, the first plant-based cannabinoid medication to receive FDA approval.

Besides his research work with the company, he also educated medical professionals, providers, payer groups, pharmacists, and advocacy organizations throughout the Southeast on the science of cannabinoids.

Welch said he looks forward to contributing to the advancement of the center’s role as a leader in the medical cannabis community.

“The National Center for Cannabis Research and Education has a unique opportunity to be at the vanguard of shaping research that will improve the new medical cannabis program for patients in Mississippi,” he said. “Importantly, the center will also take on an expanded leadership role in health professional education regarding cannabinoid science.

“It is an honor to be working for my alma mater in this endeavor, and I am excited to help build on their legacy of excellence in the science of cannabinoids.”

Welch, of Tupelo, is the immediate past president of the School of Pharmacy Alumni Board, and has served on the school’s admissions committee for the last three years.

By Natalie Ehrhardt

Robert Welch. Submitted photo

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The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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