The Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation has gifted $4.7 million to UC San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) to study the potential of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, as a treatment for severe autism, the university announced on April 25.

The $4.7 million gift is the largest private gift to date for medicinal cannabis research in the United States.

The clinical study will be led by Doris Trauner, a professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Basic and translational research will be headed by Gabriel A. Silva, professor of bioengineering in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and professor of neurosciences, and Alysson Muotri, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

The CMCR at UC San Diego was established in 2000 after passage of California Senate Bill 847. Its first studies looked at the potential benefits of cannabis for easing certain types of chronic pain, as well as severe muscle spasticity.

Ongoing studies continue examining cannabinoids in pain management, as well as their effects on bipolar disorder and driving performance.