We had the good fortune of connecting with Joanna Zeiger and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Joanna, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I am a former professional triathlete who placed 4th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and won the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Champion. I also have a PhD in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A terrible bike accident left me with severe chronic pain, and I also have a genetic condition that also causes pain. Traditional medications have not been enough to maintain an adequate quality of life, so I delved into cannabis use as a means of pain control, spasm control, and to aid with sleep. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked, but was disappointed to find a dearth of information about cannabis use for medical conditions in the literature. I decided to change that by starting Canna Research Group, a for-profit organization dedicated to epidemiologic surveys of how cannabis can be used medically in different populations. Our aim is to understand benefits, harms, knowledge, attitudes, and patterns of cannabis use in cannabis users (and their physicians) in an effort to provide evidence-based information on how to use cannabis. We most recently formed Canna Research Foundation, a non-profit entity working under the auspices of a fiscal sponsor (Professional Philanthropy Fund). We endeavor to conduct unbiased, high quality research in which the results will help us educate patients, medical providers, and industry professionals on how best to treat patients with medical cannabis. We want to help de-stigmatize cannabis and help medical professionals start conversations with their patients about cannabis by showing them which questions to ask and how to answer them with evidence-based information. This is a long haul project. It takes time and money to run the studies and the results do not always give clear answers. But, we hope, over time with some excellent collaborations and a lot of hard work, we can help provide patients a way to improve their well-being and health. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have two professional lives. The first is a coach to endurance athletes, which I have been doing for almost 15 years. I coach athletes of all ages and abilities. It is a joy to help other athletes achieve their goals by honing their physical and mental skills. I have learned so much from them over the years, which has improved my ability to help them. My second is that of a cannabis epidemiologist and conducting the aforementioned cannabis studies. I love my work. The two jobs are very different and rewarding and challenging in different ways. As a coach, athletes are entrusting me to create training plans that will give them joy in their training and racing while at the same time making improvements, all while juggling work and family. I admire their dedication and it makes me want to work hard for them. The cannabis research is rewarding in a different way. I have a deep background in biostatistics and I love analyzing data and writing up the results. It is my ultimate goal that our work can change lives and improve the well-being of those suffering from pain or various diseases. I have definitely learned about patience, that things take time. And, even though I might be enthusiastic about something, that doesn’t mean my enthusiasm is returned by others. I am used to forging my own path, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am an outdoor enthusiast, as are most of my friends. Depending on the season, I would take my friend running, hiking, or snowshoeing. There are so many fantastic trails around. Some of my favorite trails are up by Brainard Lake and Peaceful Valley. I also enjoy many of the mountain towns and search out new places to hike or run. In terms of food, I like a good ‘ole burger and fries and I am always on the lookout for excellent tacos. I live in Boulder, but Denver has so many wonderful activities and the museums rock! I am a fan of Crushed Walls and like to check that out.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents, Bob and Karen, deserve a lot of credit for my success – they ensured I had the opportunities I needed to reach my potential and have always been my biggest cheerleader’s. My father is a medical doctor who has been involved with research for decades, so his influence on my becoming a researcher cannot be understated. In fact, he is the Chief Medical Officer for Canna Research Foundation, so it is very awesome that we get to do research together and have published numerous papers and abstracts as co-authors. I also want to give a shout out to William Silvers, MD who is our Chief Scientific Officer at CRF and Edward Fleeger, MD for his sage advice. Finally, Will Murry who is on our Board of Directors, has helped focus our organization and kept us moving in the right direction. And. finally, my husband Mark Shenk has been my rock and has encouraged me in all of my endeavors and helps out so much when my battered body is ailing.

Website: https://cannaresearchfoundation.org/
Instagram: @joannazeiger
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-zeiger-1460165/
Twitter: @joannazeiger
Facebook: Joanna Zeiger Shenk
Other: https://racereadycoaching.com/ http://joanna-zeiger.com/

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