Gerald Berkowitz, PhD

Smiling man sitting in front of a computer

The Berkowitz lab has identified plant hormone (growth regulator) treatments to increase the CBD content and female flower size of cannabis, and is exploring the control of trichome density by plant hormones. Berkowitz has also investigated a number of cultural management practices used by the industry to produce controlled environment cannabis. Berkowitz has applied molecular genetic approaches to the investigation of the cannabinoid and terpene biosynthetic pathways in cannabis. This work has led to the identification of rate-limiting steps for CBD/THC production and demonstrated that some key genes are associated with this rate-limiting step; providing new targets for cannabis plant breeders. Berkowitz has identified previously unknown transcription factors that control trichome initiation in female flowers as the cannabis plant matures, with plans to patent and commercialize his findings. These studies will provide new targets for genetic manipulation and support further R&D efforts. The Berkowitz lab has been supported by prior and current funding from cannabis companies in New England and California.





  • Cannabis teaching and research at UConn, Stockton State Univ. Cannabis Curriculum convening online conference, 2021.
  • Rate limitations to cannabinoid production in cannabis, Analytical Cannabis Extraction, Science and Testing, online, 2021
  • The Plant Science of Cannabis sativa, Tower Hill Botanical Garden, 2020
  • Molecular signals that regulate trichome formation in cannabis, The Science of Cannabis Cultivation Online Symposium, 2020
  • Looking under the hood of the cannabis plant: Molecular studies of cannabinoid biosynthetic genes, transcription factors regulating trichome development and pathway gene expression, effects of plant hormones on end-product production in female cannabis flowers. 6th Annual Emerald Conference, 2020
  • The science of cannabis. Yale School of Management symposium on the Business of Legal Cannabis, 2020.
  • Cannabis on Campus: Not what you think! CT Horticultural Society Annual Meeting, 2020
  • Looking under the hood of the cannabis plant, Industrial Hemp Conf., 2020
  • Exogenous Application of Salicylic Acid May Elicit Expression of Key Genes in the Cannabinoid Biosynthesis Pathway, Amer. Soc. Plant Biol.National Meeting, 2020
  • The Plant Science of Cannabis sativa. Connecticut Horticultural Society, 2020
  • The Plant Science of Cannabis sativa. Middlesex Community College, 2020
  • The Plant Science of Cannabis sativa, Metropolitan Horticultural Society, 2020
  • Cannabis and Hemp Academia Town Hall, Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo, 2019
  • CBDa synthase expression is correlated with cannabidiol (CBD) production in Cannabis sativa (hemp) flowers. Amer. Soc. Plant Biol. National Meeting, 2019
  • Cannabis research at UConn. NY Horticultural Society Forum on Cannabis, 2019.
  • Optimizing cannabinoid production. Eastern US Hemp Conf, 2019



  • UConn Research Excellence Program $25,000, Hormone regulated transcriptional modulation of cannabinoid biosynthesis in Cannabis sativa (Co-PI Yi Ma) 9/1/2021-8/31/2022 (Internal competitive grant; not external)
  • Eric Zachs $49,189, Identification of transcription factor proteins and other factors that regulate trichome initiation and cannabinoid levels in Cannabis. 9/1/2020-8/31/2021
  • CTPharma $44,714, Genetic and Physiological Factors that Rate-Limit Cannabinoid Biosynthesis and Trichome Development During Cannabis Flower Maturation (3/20-2/21)
  • Genius Fund Venture Capital, LLC, $933,303, Development of tissue culture and transformation technology to develop industrial hemp genotypes that maximize cannabidiol content while maintaining low THC levels, (6/19-5/25)
  • Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions $30,124. Molecular genetic studies of cannabis pathogen defense genes, disease resistance, cannabinoid production, and expression of cannabinoid synthesis pathway genes (1/19-12/19)
  • Go-Pap Synthesis LLC $200,000 Development of a program aimed at manipulating cannabidiol generation in hemp-type Cannabis sativa L. plants and yeast (3/17- 2/19)
  • USDA-NRI AFRI Foundational Knowledge of Plant Products Program. $598,735 Deciphering the molecular regulatory mechanisms controlling trichome development and cannabinoid biosynthesis in hemp. 1/1/20211-12/31/2024. (Pending, Co-PI Yi Ma).