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RAP opportunity at National Institute of Standards and Technology     NIST

Sampling and Characterization of Breath Metabolic Products Associated with Cannabis Use


Material Measurement Laboratory, Applied Chemicals and Materials Division

opportunity location
50.64.72.C0234 Boulder, CO

NIST only participates in the February and August reviews.


name email phone
Kavita M Jeerage 303.497.4968
Tara Marie Lovestead 303.497.5614


Devices that capture chemical components from exhaled breath aerosols with filter-like materials have recently reached the market, but no current device is capable of quantitative analysis for drugs. The NIST Boulder Cannabis Research team investigates, develops, and optimizes new techniques for collecting breath components, identifying components associated with cannabis consumption, and developing mathematical algorithms to capture patterns in the breath metabolite data. This project will contribute to the understanding of marijuana intoxication, which will be a great benefit to law enforcement personnel and society.

We seek proposals to develop methods to remove and quantitate breath metabolites, specifically major cannabinoids (THC, CBD), minor cannabinoids, and terpenes from breath collection devices. Compound removal from breath collection devices is non-trivial and will require extensive method development. A full analytical chemistry facility will be available to the researcher for quantitation, including gas or liquid chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC-MS, GC-QToF-MS/MS, and LC-MS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and a variety of other instrumentation. We also seek proposals to measure the important thermophysical properties necessary for breathalyzer development, including vapor pressure and partitioning. Compound partitioning (air to blood and blood to fat) at physiologically important temperatures will help determine “what” and “how much” to collected or discern impairment. We also seek proposals to select or design materials to optimize breath collection devices to detect cannabis impairment. Materials will be analyzed for their ability to both “capture” and “release” the identified target compounds.  

Postdoctoral associates will have the opportunity to participate in a multi-agency project investigating the correlation between cannabis consumption, intoxication, and impairment. Collaborators at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder will evaluate impairment with validated measures of simulated driving and cognition. CU experimentalists will also take blood and breath samples at predetermined time points. Proposals that aim to identify potential markers for cannabis impairment are of interest to the entire research team. Strategies include developing mathematical algorithms to capture patterns in the breath metabolite data with the assistance of NIST statisticians.

Lovestead, T. M. and T. J. Bruno, “Determination of Cannabinoid Vapor Pressures to Aid in Vapor Phase Detection of Intoxication,” Forensic Chemistry, 2017, 5, 79-85.

key words
breath; cannabis; cannabinoids; drugs; forensics; intoxication; metabolites; terpenes


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$82,764.00 $3,000.00
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