In September 2018, BLOCKStrain entered into a technology partnership with Lighthouse Genomics, a leader in advanced testing laboratory for DNA and Quality Assurance testing of cannabis products.
Lighthouse Genomics is led by Dr. Gina Conte, an award-winning expert in evolutionary genetics, who has spearheaded groundbreaking discoveries of genetic traits within plants, as well as Tim Harvey, a foremost expert in cannabis breeding and strain propagation with decades of experience in the Canadian cannabis market.
This Research Scientist is on the Hunt for Cannabis’ Holy Grail
Dr. Gina Conte is a research scientist who thrives on big challenges – enormous challenges, such as decoding the language of DNA. Conte, who earned her doctorate in evolutionary genetics at the University of British Columbia, is on a mission to understand the genetics of cannabis.
Conte, the Chief Science Officer for Lighthouse Genomics, is hoping to reveal the exact genetic identity of every cannabis variety on the planet and to determine what it is in their DNA that gives each its unique properties. It sounds daunting, but Conte and the team of researchers at Lighthouse are well underway in achieving this blockbuster scientific breakthrough.
Lighthouse Genomics will position BLOCKStrain as a leading authority on cannabis genetics.
A Passion for Biology
Conte has spent her career tackling the most fundamental questions in biology, driven by a desire to understand evolutionary processes by using modern tools of genomic analysis. Her work has spanned the tree of life, including Hawaiian crickets, pea aphids, three-spine sticklebacks, conifers and sunflowers. She is now applying the insights learned in other species to cannabis.
“Cannabis interacts with humans in an incredibly complex way. We are at the forefront of discovering what drives these interactions and genomics is the most powerful tool we have. By cataloging the genetic diversity, we will propel cannabis science and industry toward this goal,” Conte says.
Cannabis Consumers Deserve Science
Solving the genetic riddle of cannabis is important to Conte for a number of reasons. First and foremost is consumer trust. “People with serious medical conditions are finding that only certain varieties work for them. These people need to be able to reliably access those varieties – but currently, strain names are not dependable. Our goal at Lighthouse is to fix this.”
Establishing the true genetic identity of cannabis varieties, Conte believes, is an example of how sound science can change lives. “Patients will be much more savvy and will be demanding better genetic data about what they are putting in their bodies. And Lighthouse will be leading the way.”
Lighthouse Genomics Teams Up with BLOCKStrain Technology
Lighthouse Genomics has teamed up with BLOCKStrain to ensure that all cannabis products can be trace back to their genome through BLOCKStrain’s comprehensive and immutable data platform.
Lighthouse CEO Timothy Harvey was thrilled to have Conte running his company’s genetic laboratory. “Dr. Conte’s background, passion and skill set are exactly what we need in the important work we’re doing as cannabis becomes legal and mainstream,” Harvey said. “Our mission at Lighthouse, essentially, is to make it easy and appealing for the Canadian industry to usher in an age of genetic transparency. Specifically, we will shine a light on the exact genetic identity of cannabis varieties,” Harvey says.
It’s not only the consumer who will benefit from Conte’s research – growers and seed companies have been awaiting this breakthrough for decades. “The cannabis industry gets it,” Harvey says. “By allowing their cannabis genetics to announce their own identity – by allowing each cannabis plant to wear its genetic code on the outside – we can all be part of a good news story that carries our industry into the light.”