An interview with Dr. Mike Tagen, Endocanna Health Science Board Member.
At Endocanna Health, cannabis is personal®.
Our team is passionate about empowering individuals on their own wellness journeys, which means having the utmost confidence in the science behind Endo·dna and our Endo·Aligned formulations.
Below, get to know Dr. Mike Tagen, Endocanna Health Science Board member, co-founder of Verdient Science consulting, pharmacogenomic specialist, and expert on the science of cannabis and cannabinoids.
His diverse science background has prepared him well for his role of general science guy, sounding board, and research review expert at Endocanna Health.
Always the “science guy” at heart.
Dr. Tagen remembers always being interested in science, even as a kid, when sharks and archaeology captured his imagination.
When asked about his biggest influences, he remembers the tenth grade in high school as the real turning point for setting him on his path towards a career in the sciences.
“I was always into science ever since I can remember, a little kid reading about all these cool topics that were always about science. I always had this interest, but I think it was probably my 10th grade science class and science teacher where I said ‘Wow, this isn’t just an interest, but this is something that I want to spend my life doing.’”
He found the brain and all things related to it particularly intriguing, so he majored in Neuroscience for his undergraduate degree, later moving into Pharmacology for his PhD.
A neuroscientist goes dancing.
Knowing better than most how important a healthy body is for a healthy mind, Dr. Tagen stays active in his downtime, connecting with people and getting outside.
Living in Miami, he’s able to get outside to go biking and paddle-boarding most of the year, and he especially enjoys dancing salsa and bachata.
A thirst for knowledge across disciplines.
Dr. Tagen says that what keeps him motivated in his work is knowing that he can wake up every day and read the latest research, and knowing that as scientists they are “all contributing to new knowledge in the world.”
The fact that that knowledge can help develop therapies to treat sick people or to just help improve people’s lives keeps him going.
After working in cancer and immunology research, Dr. Tagen spent 8 years researching for biopharmaceutical companies, and his research and consulting work for cannabis and cannabinoid-related endeavours include product development, clinical testing and pharmacogenetics.
About his varied scientific background, Dr. Tagen says,
“A lot of people working in science really focus just on one area for their entire career, but I’ve worked in a lot of different areas a lot more than most people and have had probably a wider diversity of experience than a lot of scientists.”
That diversity has helped him keep an open mind and train a keen eye for evaluating the potential of new research.
“[D]ifferent people are going to have different interests in Endo·dna. For me personally, I would say one of the things that would be most interesting is really just helping understand myself and how the genetics of the endocannabinoid system have an influence on me, to help understand my own biology or my own brain better.”
Taking the leap from the lab to clinical research.
Dr. Tagen didn’t want to let himself get pigeonholed too early, and he managed to move out of lab research and into more hands-on clinical research. At the time, however, it seemed unusual for a research scientist to make that change.
He had to face:
“the classic problem for anybody who wants to switch from one area to another: If you don’t already have those skills, people don’t want to hire you, but the only way to get those skills is to work in that area.”
For a time, it seemed like a change in direction might be out of reach, but after multiple rejections, Dr. Tagen found a position where he was able to start the next stage of his professional journey.
He is now one of the few scientists that have contributed to research in multiple different fields, from neuroscience and pharmacology to immunology, cancer research, and plant medicine.
Becoming the Prof of Pot.
The endocannabinoid system always held a particular fascination for Dr. Tagen, in large part because it was discovered so recently, so there’s always new research happening and new things to learn about it.
In 2016, with the beginning of cannabis legalization in the United States, he was able to dive even more deeply into cannabinoid research and the newly-minted cannabis industry.
Dr. Tagen and his alias, The Prof of Pot, have made significant contributions to the body of research on the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoid science and plant medicine.
He has been producing approachable scientific content about cannabis and cannabinoid therapeutics for years, helping empower people to learn more about their health and how it can be affected by their own endocannabinoid system.
Science needs patience and communication
If there’s one message that Dr. Tagen would like to get out there, it’s that science is a slow process and it takes patience. For meaningful results, you can’t rush or jump to conclusions before the science is ready.
In an area like cannabinoid science, it’s easy to get drawn into all the new information coming out. Dr. Tagen is constantly combing through new research to see whether studies have a strong enough foundation to rely on, or if there still needs to be more work done to have full confidence in the results.
Always looking to the next step in the science journey.
When asked about what he’s most proud of, Dr. Tagen has a hard time, because he’s rarely looking back at what he’s accomplished, but rather is always looking to what comes next.
He says this is:
“[b]ecause science is very iterative. Once you get an answer to one question or a result, you always have another experiment to run or another study to run. I guess I’ve just always been so focused on what’s the next step. “
Advocating for cannabis research in the U.S.
In Dr. Tagen’s experience, regulations around cannabis research in the U.S. have remained strict, and getting approval for studies can be frustratingly difficult.
Of the research clinical trial approval process, he says that:
“it’s not always an easy task here. There’s a lot of examples where certain groups have had a study ready to go and yet they’ve had to wait years to get all the right approvals from different government agencies. So being able to get some clinical trials set up relatively quickly, is something that I’m proud of.”
Dr. Tagen has had a hand in moving U.S. research forward, helping ensure that a number of different studies took place in a timely manner, rather than languishing in limbo.
Teaming up with Len May and Endocanna Health.
Dr. Tagen’s connection with Endocanna Health originally came about after he got in touch with CEO Len May. Dr. Tagen had written a number of articles on pharmacogenomics and realized that no one was really writing about cannabis science in terms that non-scientists could understand.
He says that, at the time, if you Googled ‘pharmacogenomics’ or ‘cannabinoid science’, you got a bunch of links to research studies, but no articles written for the layperson.
When Len realized that Dr. Tagen was as excited about the topic of cannabinoid science as he was, and was also interested in explaining that science to regular people, they began working together and have been collaborating ever since.
Endo-dna is a powerful tool for learning.
What Dr. Tagen appreciates most about Endo·dna is that it puts the information in the hands of the individual. The information empowers the individual to get what they need, or what they want, out of their own personal Endo·Decoded report.
As Dr. Tagen points out,
“[D]ifferent people are going to have different interests in Endo·dna for me personally, I would say one of the things that would be most interesting is really just helping understand myself and how the genetics of the endocannabinoid system have an influence on me, to help understand my own biology or my own brain better.”
Endocanna Health is a biotechnology company committed to helping consumers find the right cannabinoid products to enhance their health and wellness. Using our breakthrough DNA test, Endo·dna, we empower you to take control of your health with access to over 55 different health reports that include suggestions for the best CBD and cannabis products that match your unique genetic code. Visit us here to find out more!