Brian F. Thomas

Principal Scientist, Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutics


  • PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BA, Kenyon College

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Brian Thomas, PhD, has more than 25 years of experience in analytical chemistry and pharmacology. He is the principal investigator (PI) on research contracts funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) titled “Purity Specifications, Storage, and Distribution for Medications Development” and “Preparation and Distribution of Research Drug Products” and is the PI on a subcontract with the University of Mississippi and Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly titled “Production, Analysis and Distribution of Cannabis, Marijuana Cigarettes, and Related Materials.” Serving in these roles continuously since 1992, he has been responsible for coordinating the preparation and analysis of drugs of abuse and substance abuse treatment medications.

Dr. Thomas has pursued additional NIDA R01 grant-funded research activities involving the characterization of cannabinoid ligand-receptor interactions and their relationship to in vivo pharmacological effects. His most recent RO1 application—titled “Investigation of Synthetic Cannabinoid Exposures and Pharmacological Consequences”—received a perfect impact score and has been scheduled for funding by NIDA in 2016.

He has provided expertise in pharmacology and analytical chemistry to a diverse group of organizations including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the U.S. government’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and numerous commercial clients. For example, Dr. Thomas has provided consulting services and support to the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products summary report on the impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health. He has also contributed to the development of the NINDS compound dossiers for potential neuroprotective agents to treat the symptoms and progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Thomas has published more than 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and numerous book chapters, and he is the Series Editor of Emerging Issues in Analytical Chemistry from Elsevier and RTI Press. He is also the first author of a new volume in the series titled The Analytical Chemistry of Cannabis: Quality Assessment, Assurance, and Regulation of Medicinal Marijuana and Cannabinoid Preparations. This concise and well-referenced summary of the broad field of cannabis science provides information that could be useful in establishing standards for the manufacture, labelling, and distribution of safe and consistent medical marijuana products.

He has been awarded RTI’s President’s Award for his scientific contributions to the institute on three occasions, and he has adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and in the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina Central University.