Pioneering Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy Launches in Texas

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The Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy in Texas will focus on utilising psychedelics to treat depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Psychedelic Spotlight reports that The Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy, launched by Dell Medical School at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, is the first of its kind in the state.

This announcement comes 6 months after Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill requiring the state to research the risks and benefits of MDMA, ketamine and psilocybin for veterans.

Creating clinical evidence for the uses of psychedelic therapy

Charles B. Nemeroff, the Center’s co-lead, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Dell Medical School expects for the research to bring scientific rigour and expertise to the study of psychedelic therapy.

Scientists will carry out clinical studies to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics such as psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and ayahuasca for the treatment of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Center will also cater to adults experiencing prolonged grief disorder and depression, as well as those who have experienced childhood trauma.

The initial drive of the new research hub will be focussed on developing treatments for military veterans living with PTSD. Texas has the nation’s second-largest population of veterans – about 1.6 million.

Given the mounting evidence from previous studies and testimonies attesting to the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics in treating trauma, the veteran demographic has roused significant interest among Texas State senators. This was imperative in fuelling the widely conservative state to approve of the May 2020 bill committing to research the therapeutic uses of psychedelics.

The Heroic Hearts Project, a non-profit organization advocating the development of psilocybin treatment for the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in veterans, is among the center’s first program partners.

The psychedelic renaissance

Greg Fonzo, a co-lead of the Center explains that one of the key therapeutic benefits of psychedelics may be their ability to enhance neural plasticity. This is the process which allows the brain to adapt to new experiences. Fonzo will spearhead one of the Center’s initial projects, investigating how psilocybin and transcranial magnetic stimulation work conjunctively, to relieve stress-related depression and anxiety.

Earlier this year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Pharmacy became the first school in the U.S. to offer a master’s course in psychedelic medicine. The education center also launched the UW-Madison Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances to further its ongoing research and education in psychedelic compounds.

While psychedelic research first received mainstream attention in the mid-1950s, America’s global War on Drugs stifled research, driving it to a standstill by the early 1970s.

Donors and supporters of the center see its creation as having the potential to shift the paradigm in mental health. The Texan Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy is one of a number of academic institutions appearing across the U.S. in the wake of the cultural psychedelic renaissance being experienced globally, which is promoting this type of research.

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