Let’s start with something easy. Can you tell us a little about your professional background and areas of focus?
I took a rather circuitous route to become a physician with detours in dentistry and neuroscience. During my first year of dental school at Penn I discovered that the brain is much more interesting than teeth, so I dropped out of dental school and decided to apply to medical school. For two years in between dental school and med school, I worked full-time in neuroscience research studying the effects of antiretroviral drugs on the central nervous system in rats.
Once I started med school at Albert Einstein, I was immediately drawn to psychiatry, partly because my father is a psychotherapist and he’s always loved what he does, and also because of the opportunity to spend more time with patients compared to other medical specialties. Furthermore, psychiatry gets at the root of the human condition, as mental health is the foundation of everything that makes us who we are.
I’m particularly interested in the use of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in the following areas:
•Compassion fatigue and burnout
How would you describe your approach to therapy?
Straightforward and conversational with a dash of humor.
What would your patients say about you?
I truly listen to them and take time to really understand them.
How did you become interested in working with psychedelics including ketamine?
Prior to becoming a psychiatrist, psychedelics had a profound and lasting impact on my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I knew I wanted to work in a profession where I could make a difference in people’s lives via treatment with psychedelics. During med school I attended the annual Horizons Conference on Psychedelics in NYC, and I realized the field of mental health was in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance. I also assisted with ketamine research at Northwell Health in between my first and second year of med school, and that’s when I first began to appreciate ketamine’s ability to act as a powerful antidepressant.
While in psychiatry residency at NYU, I was a therapist on the psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for alcoholism study, where I witnessed how psychedelics have the power to treat addiction. I also underwent ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training through the Ketamine Training Center with Phil Wolfson during my last year of residency.
All of these experiences have demonstrated to me the crucial role that psychedelics can play in alleviating suffering.
What excites you most about the future of psychedelics?
The ability of psychedelics to not only alleviate suffering, but also to help people find greater meaning and fulfillment in their lives.
Enough about work! Let’s try some rapid fire questions;
- First, Where do you live? - I’ve been living a nomadic life for the past several years after leaving NYC in January 2020: Bay Area (1.5 years) → Hudson Valley (1 year) → Ohio (since February 2023)
- What's a perfect afternoon? - Either hiking with my wife and our mini goldendoodle, or being curled up on the couch with a big novel and a good jazz album.
- Favorite food? Pizza/Pasta - New York-style pizza (John’s Of Bleecker Street or Luzzo’s in the East Village)
- Describe yourself in two words. - Adventurous and curious