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Jason Wallach’s Lab Aims to Improve Drugs for Patients

By Nicole Carrera

Published on September 28, 2020

Jason Wallach, PhD, has always been fascinated by how drugs could alter a person’s reality and have a lasting impact. Now he and his team spend time in the lab researching how existing drugs, including psychoactive and dissociative drugs, and new formulations can best help patients.

“The overarching idea of what we do is drug development, so we try to make new medications for people,” said Dr. Wallach. “The other focus of the research is making tools that are similar to drugs that can be used to understand how our bodies work.”

Dr. Wallach and his research team often aim to better understand how drugs can be improved upon. His lab incorporates many areas of science, which allows the team to look at drugs through many different lenses in order to identify potential problems and solutions. 

Dr. Wallach and the lab have found  success with real world applications. “It’s actually a lot harder than people realize to find experiments that are translating into clinical application,” he explains “I’m very particular in making sure that the work we do will translate into clinical data. The ultimate question is ‘what does this tell us about what will happen in humans?’”

"The ultimate questions is 'what does this tell us about what will happen in humans?'"

-- Jason Wallach, PhD

His research into dissociative drugs includes Ketamine, which has recently seen a resurgence of interest from the research community examining its impact on depression.Through his research, Dr. Wallach is examining these drugs to determine ways that they might be improved and better applied. 

Aside from clinical success, Dr. Wallach emphasizes that the skills learned from doing research are applicable to all areas of life and learning. He explains that while reading from a textbook is a good resource, it is important to remember that the information came from an experiment which can be reviewed and re-analyzed for more information. “By doing research you learn reality,” he said. “You see where knowledge comes from and that is so valuable.”

The lab is currently working on a number of publications, most notably, the team has been involved in research which solidified a long-debated hypothesis about hallucinogenic drug side effects in humans. Dr. Wallach and his team have also gained several contracts with pharmaceutical companies, which will allow for another facet of clinical application for the lab’s research. 

Categories: News, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty, Research