Cannabidiol as a potential COVID-19 treatment

The Rosner Lab is pleased to announce our latest finding on bioRxiv (currently in peer-review): Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Promotes the Host Innate Immune Response. We demonstrate that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive product of the cannabis plant, inhibits SARS-CoV-2 viral replication. CBD is a FDA-approved drug for an epilepsy disorder and is also used by millions of Americans as an alternative treatment for anxiety and other health conditions.

Key findings:

  • CBD acts after viral entry to block viral replication as demonstrated by loss of the viral spike protein and loss of viral RNA.
  • CBD induces expression of interferon genes involved in the host innate immune response to SARS-CoV-2 but inhibits viral-induced cytokine expression that could lead to a deleterious cytokine storm.
  • CBD inhibits replication of at least one other coronavirus, MHV, raising the possibility that it may inhibit other pathogenic human coronaviruses that could arise in the future.
  • A metabolite of CBD, 7-OH-CBD, is an effective inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 at a concentration comparable to that in human plasma after patients took an FDA-approved CBD oral solution.
  • Analysis of a cohort of patients taking FDA-approved CBD showed up to a 10-fold decreased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to a matched set of control patients.


We do not recommend self-administration of CBD. We also cannot recommend any particular products. We advocate a clinical trial(s) to determine CBD’s effect in human patients. We also advocate a COVID-19 vaccine when one is eligible/doses are available.


We Are fighting against COVID-19

The Rosner Lab is proud to receive the Vision Grant from the University’s Big Ideas Generator to conduct COVID-19 research. Together with our collaborators at the Biological Sciences Division and the Medical Center, we’ve adopted a three-pronged approach aiming to thwart coronavirus infection at the transcriptomic, proteomics and metabolomic levels. Preliminary work started before the funding was granted, and we are currently pursuing several leads. The Vision Grant allows us to continue to fight against COVID-19 with our expertise in early host stress response networks.

About the Big Ideas Generator

Big Ideas Generator (BIG) powers bold, early-stage projects at UChicago that have potential to grow into significant research agendas. The fund’s goal is to identify and support path-breaking ideas that have the potential to become novel and robust areas of research but are too nascent for traditional sources of funding. Winning proposals will demonstrate substantial intellectual merit and novelty of the idea, as well as the potential for entrenching the research program at the University in the future.

Three tiers of grants are available:

Workshop grants to plan for large-scale, inter-disciplinary initiatives – up to $5K

Seed grants for exploratory research work – up to $15K 

Vision grants for research-intensive projects – up to $75K

Winning proposals will also receive strategic research development support for up to two years, targeting follow-up federal funding opportunities. Proposals will undergo a rigorous review process by an internal Faculty Advisory Board review. Funding decisions will be made by the Faculty advisory Board, chaired by Prof. Ka Yee Lee, Vice Provost for Research. The BIG initiative reaffirms the University’s commitment to supporting novel, potentially risky ideas that could have a transformative intellectual impact.


Big Congrats to Our Summer Student Xiaohe “Amy” Xie!

Today we celebrate the end of Amy’s fruitful summer doing research with us. Amy is a rising senior student at Peking University and she spent two months here as one of the 2019 International Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates Program scholars. Under the mentorship of Peter and Ali, Amy has generated lots of data and showcased her excellent critical thinking skills and technical prowess with an impressive presentation in front of UChicago faculty and students. We’re so happy to have met her and we wish her all the best with her graduate school applications!

Continue reading “Big Congrats to Our Summer Student Xiaohe “Amy” Xie!”

Celebrating Jiyoung’s New Job at the George Washington University

Congratulations to Dr. Jiyoung Lee for accepting her new job offer at the GWU! Starting this September, Jiyoung will join the George Washington University as an assistant professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. On behalf of the lab, Dr. Rosner presented a special mug to Jiyoung as a celebratory gift. Andrea brought quiche, lemon curd parfait and cupcakes all made by herself. They are absolutely amazing!

Continue reading “Celebrating Jiyoung’s New Job at the George Washington University”

Payal Published a New Paper!

Payal’s paper “Metabolically activated adipose tissue macrophages link obesity to triple-negative breast cancer” was just published in Journal of Experimental Medicine! The paper is a great showcase of her thesis project.

A PhD is Born!

Huge CONGRATULATIONS to Ali for becoming a doctor! His thesis defense, titled “Discovery of anti-metastatic therapies guided by the physiological suppressor Raf Kinase Inhibitory Protein”, was attended by professors, friends, and family. Ali’s thesis defense went through smoothly this morning, with several jokes, funny stories, and a very moving acknowledgement. The thesis committee members all voted Yay after the presentation, so now we have Dr. Yesilkanal! Continue reading “A PhD is Born!”

Our Seniors at the Rowley Honors Symposium

As members of the Biology Honors program, Ariane, Ethan, and Jielin attended the Fourth Annual Janet and Donald Rowley Honors Symposium yesterday to present their thesis research conducted at our lab. The event included talks from current honors students and distinguished College alumni who have gone to become leaders in their field of interest, followed by a poster session and reception. We are so proud that our undergrads have made significant contributions to cancer research at the Rosner Lab! Continue reading “Our Seniors at the Rowley Honors Symposium”