Jump to Content

Professor Jason White 

Position: Head of School
Division/Portfolio: Division of Health Sciences
School/Unit: School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
Campus: City East Campus
Office: P4-46
Telephone: +61 8 830 21203
Fax: +61 8 830 22389
Email: Jason_dot_White_at_unisa_dot_edu_dot_au
URL for Business Card: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Jason.White

Other Contacts

Personal Assistant, Kendra Carey: kendra.carey@unisa.edu.au or 08 8302 2378

Links to other sites

Drugs of Dependence Research Group

Therapeutics and Pharmaceutical Science research concentration

Neuroscience UniSA



Research interests

  • My research focuses on the pharmacology of drugs of dependence, particularly opioids and stimulants. We have a laboratory to measure physiological, behavioural and cognitive function in human subjects, both volunteers and clinical populations. The clinical groups include people being treated for drug dependence and pain patients who are prescribed opioids. We also conduct clinical trials in these populations at treatment centres in Adelaide. Our research has two main aims. The first is to characterise the adverse effects of long term use of opioids and stimulant drugs. For example, we have shown that prolonged opioid use in the context of either pain treatment or addiction increases sensitivity to some types of painful stimuli. This opioid-induced hyperalgesia may play an important role in maintaining long term patterns of opioid use. In future research we will examining the factors that predict the degree of hyperalgesia (eg pharmacogenetic factors) and pharmacological strategies to reduce hyperalgesia. Another project involves collaboration with cognitive psychologists to characterise the impairment in function arising from chronic opioid use and the relative effects of partial and full agonists. The second aim is to improve current treatments for drug dependence and pain. Several strategies are being used. One is to improve medication adherence and reduce the variation due to pharmacokinetics by using long acting formulations of drugs currently employed in treatment. For example, we conducted the first trial of a buprenorphine implant that provided therapeutic concentrations of the drug over a 6 month period. A second strategy has been to trial novel drug combinations. For example, we showed the efficacy of combinations of buprenorphine with ultra-low doses of opioid antagonists. This was the first definitive study to demonstrate that a combination shown in animal models to reduce opioid requirements and decrease the development of tolerance was also effective in humans. We have also used pharmacogenetic approaches to examine how opioids can best be used to minimise risks of dependence.

Research publications

Change | Staff home page help