To advance our understanding of the basic neurobiology of psychedelics and translate this knowledge into safe and effective therapeutics
Psychedelics are among the most powerful substances known to impact brain function. Not only do they produce profound subjective experiences, they also reduce inflammation and promote neural plasticity. Their unique properties have led to their clinical investigation as treatments for a wide variety of brain disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder, among many others. Psychedelics produce effects on brain function that last long after the compounds have been cleared from the body, and thus, represent an enormous opportunity to heal damaged neural circuitry and produce lasting benefits for patients. To achieve this lofty goal, we need to understand exactly how psychedelics impact brain function. The UC Davis Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics aims to use the knowledge that we gain about psychedelic mechanisms of action to reverse engineer the next generation of psychedelic-related neurotherapeutics. We will forge important partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that key discoveries ultimately lead to a positive impact on the lives of patients.
The IPN leverages the breadth of expertise and world-class neuroscience community at UC Davis to conduct high-impact interdisciplinary psychedelic science utilizing the tools of modern neurobiology and chemistry. Faculty affiliated with the IPN have been leading the field in understanding the basic science of psychedelics and pushing the frontiers of psychedelic-inspired therapeutic development. Some of our most impactful contributions to the field include the discovery that psychedelics promote neural plasticity (Cell Rep., 2018), the development of the first genetically encoded biosensor for measuring hallucinogenic potential (Cell, 2021), and the design of the first non-hallucinogenic psychedelic analogues with therapeutic potential (Nature, 2021). The scientific environment of UC Davis is uniquely suited for achieving the goals of the IPN, with the facilities and expertise necessary to interrogate every aspect of psychedelic science from molecules, to circuits, to human clinical trials.