- By Dana Sparks
In the Loop: Researchers develop unique tool, and lab, to study vaping
Dr. Jon Ebbert and fellow researcher Alexandra Ward found a unique way to learn about the chemical makeup of vape solutions and determine if any are a safe alternative to smoking.
Jon Ebbert, M.D., is sympathetic to the plight of the patients he sees who are struggling with addiction. "I saw a lot of addiction growing up," he tells Rochester Magazine's Steve Lange. "I know the damage it can do."
Dr. Ebbert, a Community Internal Medicine physician and researcher in Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center, also understands why it can be so hard for his patients to stop using tobacco despite the negative effects the drug has on their bodies. "I understand that life is complicated. I understand that what drives drug addiction is the innate desire that we all have to escape pain and discomfort. I understand that we all need coping mechanisms," he tells Rochester Magazine.
It's that compassionate, firsthand understanding that's driven Dr. Ebbert and fellow Mayo Clinic researcher Alexandra Ward to learn all they can about the chemical makeup of today's ever-increasing and ever-changing vape solutions. The two also work to discover what patients are inhaling when they use cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the treatment of medical conditions — in hopes of figuring out, once and for all, if any are safe to inhale. "Half a million people die in this country every year from cigarettes," he tells the magazine. "I'd love to find something safe to reduce that harm."