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James Barrett

James Barrett, PhD

Emeritus Professor

Department: Neurology


  • PhD - Pennsylvania State University
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship - Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology

Awards & Honors

  • Solvay-Duphar Award
  • Peter B. Dews Lifetime Achievement Award for Research in Behavioral Pharmacology
  • George B. Koelle Award
  • Torald Sollman Award

James Barrett, PhD, is an emeritus professor in the Department of Neurology at Drexel University College of Medicine. He served as chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology from 2009 to 2015. He was responsible for the creation of the master's degree program in Drug Discovery & Development, and also served as founding director of the Clinical & Translational Research Institute.

The Drug Discovery & Development program provides an opportunity for students to have an in-depth exposure to the many different facets of drug discovery and development, ranging from the early identification of a molecular target through the multiple steps involved in preclinical assessment and clinical development, ultimately leading to approval and post-marketing activities. The objective is to provide opportunities for students in both the MS and PhD programs who may be interested in a career in the pharmaceutical and/or biotechnology industry to acquire formal exposure to these processes in the context of their graduate training.

Dr. Barrett teaches in a wide variety of programs in both the medical and graduate schools on topics including substance abuse disorders, animal models, translational research and drug discovery. He has held a number of academic positions prior to coming to Drexel University College of Medicine. In addition to his academic programmatic research and teaching, he also served as vice president of neuroscience discovery research at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and was chief scientific officer and senior vice president at Memory Pharmaceuticals and at Adolor Corporation.

He is past president of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, past president of the Behavioral Pharmacology Society and past president of the Association of Medical School Pharmacology Chairs. He has received a number of honorific awards, including:

  • The Solvay-Duphar Award for research on affective disorders
  • The Peter B. Dews Lifetime Achievement Award for Research in Behavioral Pharmacology
  • The George B. Koelle Award for contributions to teaching and research in pharmacology
  • The Torald Sollman Award for significant contributions to the advancement and extension of knowledge in the field of pharmacology

Dr. Barrett was recently appointed editor-in-chief of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR).

Research Overview

Dr. Barrett’s research interests focus on pain and associated co-morbidities, with an emphasis on the use of behavioral assays and on the discovery of new mechanisms and potential treatment approaches to treat chronic pain and pain associated with bone cancer.

Research Interests

Pain and its co-morbidities, behavioral pharmacology, substance abuse disorders, animal models and drug discovery for novel pain therapeutics.


The current focus of Dr. Barrett’s research efforts is on the identification of efficacious, non-addicting pharmacological therapeutics for the treatment of bone cancer pain and other forms of chronic neuropathic pain. This research utilizes a variety of animal models and explores novel mechanisms to develop alternatives to opioids. It also focuses on associated co-morbidities related to chronic pain, such as depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment and the development of cardiovascular pathophysiologies.

In the Media


Dr. Barrett has published over 200 papers and has edited five books.

Recent publications:

"Drug Discovery and Development, Drug Regulation and Prescription Writing"
Barrett JE 
In: Brody’s Human Pharmacology: Mechanism-Based Therapeutics, 6th edition.  Elsevier, in press.

"The purpose of repurposing"
Barrett JE and Kim FJ 
Commentary on "The repurposed anthelmintic mebendazole in combination with trametinib suppresses refractory NRASQ61K melanoma"
,  in press. 

"Graduate education in pharmacology: Addressing the need for specialized training for pharmaceutical and biotechnology careers"
Barrett JE, McGonigle P and Clark JE 
Pharmacology Research, 2016, 113, 327-331.

"Rodent models of Alzheimer’s disease in drug discovery"
Barrett JE and McGonigle P
In: Drug Discovery Approaches for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disorders: Alzheimer's Disease, Adejara, A. (Ed).  Academic Press, 2016, pp. 235-247.

"Animal models of reward and loss"
Barrett JE 
Conference report, Forum on Health and National Security, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Financial Stress and Behavioral Health in Military Service Members: Risk, Resilience, Mechanisms and Targets for Intervention, 33-35, 2016.

"Perspectives and trends in pharmacological approaches to the modulation of pain"
Barrett JE and Haas DA 
In: Pharmacological mechanisms and the modulation of pain.  Barrett, JE (Ed). Elsevier Publishing Co., pp. 1-33, 2016

"Pharmacological mechanisms and the modulation of pain"
Barrett JE (Ed)
Elsevier Publishing Co., 2016.

"Analgesic response to intravenous ketamine is linked to a circulating microRNA signature in female complex regional pain syndrome patients"
Douglas SR, Shenoda BB, Qureshi RA, Sacan A, Alexander GM, Perreault M, Barrett JE, Aradillas-Lopez E, Schwartzman RJ, and Ait SK
Journal of Pain, 16, 814-824, 2015.

"Circulating microRNA signatures in rodent models of pain"
Qureshi RA, Tian Y, McDonald MK, Capasso KE, Douglas S, Gao R, Orlova IA, Barrett JE, Ajit SK, and Sacan A
 Molecular Neurobiology, in press, 2015.

"The pain of pain: The challenges of animal behavior models"
Barrett JE 
European Journal of Pharmacology, 753, 183-190, 2015.

"A store-operated calcium channel inhibitor attenuates collagen-induced arthritis"
Gao XH, Gao R, Tian YZ, McGonigle P, Barrett JE, Dai Y and Hu H 
British Journal of Pharmacology, 172, 2991-3002, 2015.

"Effect of the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor JNJ-26481585 in pain"
Capasso KE, Manners MT, Qureshi RA, Tian Y, Gao R, Hu H, Barrett JE, Sacan A and Ajit SK 
Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 55, 570-578, 2015.

"Potent analgesic effects of a store-operated calcium channel inhibitor
Gao R, Gao X, Xia J, Tian Y, Barrett JE, Dai Y and Hu H  
Pain, 154, 2034–2044, 2013.

"Translational neuroscience: Applications in neurology, psychiatry and neurodevelopmental disorders"
Barrett JE, Coyle JT and William, M (Eds.).
Cambridge University Press, 2012.

"MicroRNA modulation in complex regional pain syndrome"
Orlova I, Alexander G, Qureshi R, Sacan A, Graziano A, Barrett JE, Schwartzman R and Ajit S
Journal of Translational Medicine, 2011, 9, 195.

Commentary: "mGluR2 Positive Allosteric Modulators: Therapeutic Potential for Treating Cocaine Abuse?"
Barrett JE 
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2010, 35, 2007-2008.