Reinventing Cannabis Cultivation: Meet ebbu’s Director of Genetic Research, Rob Roscow Jr.

 Rob Roscow, ebbu's Director of Genetic Research

Rob Roscow, ebbu's Director of Genetic Research

By ebbu Staff

Colorado’s cannabis legalization forever changed one young scientist’s career path. And in the past few years, Robert Roscow Jr. has been riding the bleeding edge of cannabis science as one of the first researchers to apply genetic breeding techniques to Cannabis sativa L.   

But in those historic early days as the U.S. cannabis industry was taking off, Mr. Roscow wasn’t studying plants; he researched other organisms at the University of Colorado-Boulder as an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D candidate.

He studied the developmental biology of vertebrates, how multicellular organisms use their DNA, divide their cells, and make structures like arms, heads and tails. He was comparing and contrasting how different but related organisms use the same genes in different ways—like fish that create colors or patterns, for example.

As he began exploring the cannabis industry, Mr. Roscow realized that his work could have applications to cannabis plant science. “The genetic work I was doing was universal to anything that had DNA,” he says.

He became interested in joining ebbu when he met founder Jon Cooper in 2015 and heard his vision for the company.

“In about 45 seconds of hearing him talk about what he was trying to do, and seeing how it matched with what I was interested in, I was very interested in working with him.”

Mr. Cooper shared how ebbu wanted to make cannabis products similar to what you might find in a pharmacy, or the energy-drink section of a grocery store. He understood the need to create a precise cannabis formulation—and to be able to do that repeatedly.

That grabbed Mr. Roscow’s attention.

“ebbu was the only company that was bringing this technology to the table,” he says.

And that was enough to pull him away from his graduate studies and enter the cannabis industry. Mr. Roscow has found the transition from academia to Director of Genetic Research for ebbu gratifying.

“I really enjoy being able to do research in a relatively quick fashion and have that apply to help people in the real world. In academia, it is rare to see results of research go into people’s hands so quickly. If we are working on a formulation for anti-anxiety, we can hear back from people who are buying products and seeing benefits. It’s very satisfying, and what I love the most.”

At ebbu, Mr. Roscow is pursuing two main projects that are focused on cannabinoids, the building blocks of cannabis. He and his team of four full-time staff members are leveraging the diversity of the Cannabis sativa L. species to enhance resin production and increase efficiency of rare cannabinoid production.

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As the results of this work have come in, Mr. Roscow has filed multiple patent applications on behalf of ebbu.

Mr. Roscow says working with the other divisions at ebbu is one of the things he enjoys most about going to work each day.

“In academia, there were lab groups, but they didn’t collaborate into the future. Within ebbu, we have a great skills overlap, so there’s more than one person thinking about a problem. We can walk down the hall to someone else’s desk or office and bounce an idea off of three other people to get their input. The science team has cross-disciplinary meetings. I love seeing the results, and what it’s going to mean for the future of cannabis research.”

Mr. Roscow looks forward to continuing work with other ebbu scientists to make effective cannabis products accessible to the general public, in a wider variety of delivery formats.

“The thing that keeps me intrigued is that what we’re working on in the cannabis industry and molecular biology are both moving forward at a fast pace,” he says. “New tools are available to us every year. Both the output of our work and the raw tools that go into the work give us an exciting environment.”