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UC Davis Launches Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics

The University of California, Davis plans to research psychedelics and find treatments for diseases such as depression and PTSD.


FEBRUARY 3, 2023

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The University of California, Davis announced this week that it is launching a new institute that aims to “advance basic knowledge about the mechanisms of psychedelics and translate it into safe and effective treatments for diseases such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among others.”

Called “the Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics,” it will “bring together scientists across a range of disciplines and partner with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that key discoveries lead to new medicines for patients,” the university said in the announcement, adding that the institute “was specifically designed to facilitate collaborations across campus.”

The institute “will be funded in part by a contribution of approximately $5 million from the deans of the College of Letters and Science and the School of Medicine, the vice chancellor for Research, and the Office of the Provost,” the school said, noting that the funding distinguishes it from other centers involved in the same field of study.

“While other psychedelic science centers have been formed across the country with gifts from philanthropists, the UC Davis institute is notable for also being supported by substantial university funds,” the university said.

The university said that another “unique feature of the UC Davis institute will be its focus on chemistry and the development of novel neurotherapeutics.”

David E. Olson, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, has been tapped to serve as the founding director of the new institute.

“Psychedelics have a lot of therapeutic potential, but we can do better,” said Olson, whose group published a paper three years ago “describing the first nonhallucinogenic analogue of a psychedelic compound capable of promoting neuroplasticity and producing antidepressant and anti-addictive effects in preclinical models,” according to the university.