David Olson

2018 Hellman Fellow


Assistant Professor, Chemistry
UC Davis

Project Title: Cellular methods for determining hallucinogenic potential

Project Description: Compounds capable of inducing neural plasticity, such as ketamine and MDMA, are emerging as highly efficacious and fast-acting treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases such as depression and anxiety disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder).  However, the clinical usefulness of these compounds is severely limited by their proclivity to induce hallucinations.  Our group has made the exciting discovery that the beneficial plasticity-promoting properties of psychedelics are independent of their hallucinogenic effects.  Here, we propose to establish the first cellular assay for determining a compound’s hallucinogenic potential to aid drug discovery efforts towards developing safer, non-hallucinogenic, psychedelic-inspired, fast-acting neurotherapeutics.