4/23/20

2020 has certainly evolved in an unexpected direction and I hope you, your families and communities are faring well. Personally, I’m concerned for the immediate healthcare crisis and economic challenges, as well as the mental health struggles many face as things evolve. I’ve shifted from logging too many miles on planes to logging 10+ miles a day walking up and down the Charles River (If you hear bird songs in the background when we’re talking, now you know why!) 

My focus on advancing psychedelic-assisted therapies continues and I’m curious to see how the present situation will affect progress or force adaptation in how efforts move forward. The work being done is fueled by innovative and risk-tolerant capital (philanthropy, early stage, venture capital, etc), and it remains to be seen how the present health and financial uncertainties, as well as the urgency of dealing with COVID-19, will affect these critical investments in mental health. Furthermore, much of the work to research and advance psychedelic-assisted therapies through the FDA/EMA relies on the ability to perform clinical trials and there are issues as to how added costs, social distancing, delays and complications will affect the progress. 

The present times are a reminder that work around mental health is more important than ever. My son Alex and I, with the incredible support of Sherry Rais and others, continue to work with leadership at Massachusetts General Hospital to build their Psychedelics Research Center and with the Strategic Planning Committee at the California Institute for Integral Studies, the only accredited academic institution training therapists to perform psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

We are also working with MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) which received fantastic news from their FDA Phase 3 trial of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder.  The Interim Analysis of the first half of that trial demonstrated sufficient efficacy that they will be able to complete the trial without adding additional participants, indicating a very high probability of overall successful outcomes and approval! MAPS is raising $30 million to complete the trial and begin making treatments commercially available.  PSFC (Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative) has partnered with MAPS to achieve this through the Capstone Fund, and we are involved in that effort.

Additionally, in March, the Boston Psychedelic Research Group (BPRG) hosted Harriet De Wit from the University of Chicago, who researches microdosing with LSD, as well as Jonathan Wilson and Eric Smith, who shared stories of what they are doing with the SEAL Future Foundation to help retired Navy SEALs reintegrate back into society. These (and earlier) BPRG meetings are available online here.  The next BPRG meeting with Janis Phelps and Bill Richards will be held virtually via Zoom on May 3 at 12pm ET. Also, last week we held a Global Conference Call with Robin Carhart-Harris, with over 300 registrants. You can watch a recording of that call here. The next call will be May 12th at 11am ET with Christian Angermeyer, Founder of ATAI Life Sciences, who is creating a biotech platform to heal mental health disorders and doing important work on several psychedelic treatments.

The beauty of these strange times is that there’s plenty of time to catch up with many of you. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Below I’ll share some upcoming virtual events (a few of which I’m facilitating or speaking at), as well as recent articles you may find interesting. 

If you want to dive more deeply into this topic, feel free to peruse videos and other learning resources at http://www.dicksimon.com/psychedelic-medicines/.

Be Well!

Dick Simon

Upcoming (Virtual) Events:

  • May 3, 12pm ET: BPRG Virtual Meeting with Bill Richards and Janis Phelps. Join HERE
  • May 12, 11am ET: Global Conference Call with Christian Angermayer. Register HERE
  • May 21: MAPS Virtual Seminar is a weekly series bringing together leaders from a wide range of psychedelic-related pursuits. Learn more and register here.
  • On-going – See this online psychedelics event calendar for a running list of virtual learning opportunities.
  • Not psychedelic related, but great! – Yale University is offering a free course, The Science of Wellbeing, that explores what psychological science teaches us about how to be happier, feel less stressed and flourish more.

Useful Links: