Duke’s CIPHERS Project Studying Epigenetic Sperm Changes in Male Cannabis Users

The CIPHERS Project at Duke, led by Dr. Susan Murphy, is exploring the impact of male cannabis use on the epigenetic profile of sperm and male fertility through a multi-project research effort supported by the John Templeton Foundation; the project’s focus on the paternal role in healthy development is novel, as nearly all work in this field to date has focused on women.

The project team observed significant differences in the epigenetic profiles of sperm for both men and rats exposed to cannabis compared to unexposed; saw significant decreases in sperm concentrations for males exposed to cannabis compared to those that were not; and found an association, in human tissues and animal models, between cannabis use and epigenetic changes in sperm for a gene implicated in autism. You can read more about the research findings, find brochures and other outreach materials, learn about the research team and outreach work, and find ways to keep up with the project on social media by visiting the project website at