Jonathan Lara

Class of 2023

March 12, 2024
Jonathan Lara

A native of Miami, Florida, Jonathan Lara came to New York to attend TCOP. He graduated with his PharmD in 2023. Lara earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Florida International University.

What topic did you investigate at TCOP?

The pharmacological potential of cannabis-derived molecules, determined in consultation with Dr. Mariana Babayeva, with whom I worked while a student at TCOP.

Did you have research experience before Touro? How did you get involved in research at TCOP?

In college, I helped peers with experiments and learned how a research lab operates. I began a study in Florida at a cannabis company analyzing cannabinoid compounds. While applying to pharmacy schools, I noticed that Dr. Babayeva had published studies on cannabidiol. I came to Touro to work with her.

How did you find your topic? Who at Touro helps you with ideas and how?

Dr. Babayeva, who has done previous studies on cannabidiol and CBD interacting with other drugs, helped me design my experiments and analyze the data.

Can you describe your study? What did you discover and who will it impact?

With the legalization of cannabis in many states and approval of cannabis-containing medications, there is a need for a more comprehensive understanding of the PK (what the body does to a drug) and PD (what a drug does to the body) with cannabinoids. My goal was to determine the plasma protein binding of CBD. This is not thoroughly understood and is essential to estimate the magnitude and duration of CBD’s pharmacological impacts, aid in the discovery of new drug interactions and minimize potential negative side effects.

Have you delivered presentations at conferences or published?

With the help of TCOP and supervision of Dr. Babayeva I was able to publish my article on plasma protein binding of cannabidiol in Phytotherapy Research (Wiley)

What are some of the most valuable research skills you have learned (and are learning) at Touro?

I have learned proper lab protocol and safety precautions, and how to properly describe the results of experiments for a scientific journal and work with editors to publish research.

Why is it important for pharmacy students to do research?

Research allows students to explore their interests, delve deeper into subjects and make meaningful contributions. It can help students identify their passions and potential career paths. It has allowed me to research my passion, which has opened up opportunities to work in the cannabis field.

What is your ultimate career goal, and how has TCOP helped prepare you?

Pharmacy and cannabis have become closely intertwined topics due to the increasing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and its derivatives. Schools and professional organizations have recognized the need to educate pharmacists about cannabis and its therapeutic applications. Research on cannabis continues to expand. My ultimate goal would be to continue navigating the cannabis industry as a pharmacist.