THE PREMIER GLOBAL PSYCHEDELIC STUDENT TALK CONFERENCE
PsychedelX is a free virtual conference, talk competition, and idea incubator open to + geared toward the general public that features 15-20 minute curated talks from IPN members on any topic related to psychedelics. It launched in 2021 and takes place annually every summer. These talks are accompanied by live Q&A sessions, themed keynote lectures, and professional development panels. Topics last year ranged from the role of touch in MDMA-assisted therapy to psychedelic film analysis. Below are some popular talks from 2022:
After decades of stigma, psychedelics are receiving a tremendous level of media attention. During this critical period, effective communication and engagement of novel, well-informed, and diverse ideas will shape how these compounds become integrated in the modern world. History shows us these paradigm shifts are most often led by young people, especially students. However, despite us being a wellspring of creativity, curiosity, and optimism, there are few opportunities for students interested in psychedelics to develop their skills and engage their ideas with the public.
PsychedelX is a competitive program; ranging from 60-100+ applications each year, where the top 20-30 students and/or youth were selected as speakers. Any IPN member is eligible to apply and applications open in late winter and close in the spring. In 2023, applications were reviewed by our IPN team, with at least 3 team members reviewing each application. Selection was based on the novelty, clarity, uniqueness, and impact of ideas. We are so proud of this year’s cohort and are thrilled to see the culmination of all their hard work in July!
From the beginning, each speaker is paired with a peer mentor and a talk-creation team (2-4 people) so they are always supported by one another. The PsychedelX process allows students to gain experience sharing their ideas with their peers whilst creating a lasting community and professional connections.
- Train and Network. Learn from interactive workshops on effective communication and storytelling while meeting other students (e.g. via Discord and social events).
- Peer Mentor. Receive and provide constructive feedback in small peer mentoring groups led by an experienced talk coach.
- Practice Presentations. Run through several rounds of practice talks before final recording where top scorers present live to the public and a panel of expert judges.
- Build a Lasting Cohort. Engage with your peers after the conference and stay connected to IPN through projects like this one (e.g. as a talk coach next year!)
Ultimately, we hope that the PsychedelX experience will continue to inspire students to be confident in their next professional steps. In its third year, PsychedelX has “graduated” over 40 students and youth interested in psychedelics who have gone on to pursue graduate degrees, publish research papers, and present at prestigious conferences. Fundamentally, we believe that with encouragement and honest feedback, students can convey their perspectives and ideas in a way that strengthens their sense of purpose and help make the world a better place. We hope the talks shared and connections made at PsychedelX will continue to reverberate in the psychedelics space for years to come.
July 20-22, 2023
Day 1: Natural Sciences
KEYNOTE: Ben Rein
A Conversation on Psychedelic Research, the Neuroscience of Empathy, and Science Communication
Bio: Ben Rein, PhD is a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Robert Malenka’s lab at Stanford University. He is currently studying the neural basis of empathy and how drugs such as MDMA act in the brain to enhance social connection. Dr. Rein’s previous research examined genetic risk factors for autism spectrum disorder and identified key systems in the brain that regulate social interactions. He has authored 17 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received research honors from the NIH, the Society for Neuroscience, and Sigma Xi. Outside of the lab, he also creates educational science videos for an audience of more than 900,000 social media followers. In his videos, he summarizes research papers, teaches neuroscience principles, and debunks viral videos containing misinformation. Dr. Rein’s videos have been featured on Good Morning America, he has been interviewed in Popular Mechanics, and served as an expert consultant for Entertainment Tonight. He has received science communication-related grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Mind Science Foundation, and been recognized with awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Stanford University.
Psilocin Esters – An Investigation of Synthetic Feasibility, Chemical, and Metabolic Stability
Abstract: As interest in the potential of psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat mental health disorders continues to grow, there is a critical need for a more efficient and effective method of producing this promising therapy. The current methods for synthesizing psilocybin have limitations, including a low yield from extraction and challenges in chemical synthesis. However, this research project offers a potential solution – psilocin-ester prodrugs. By bypassing the challenging phosphorylation step in psilocybin synthesis, these prodrugs have the potential to provide a more accessible and scalable alternative to traditional methods of producing psilocybin. The goal of this research project is to identify psilocin-ester prodrugs that are easy to synthesize, chemically stable, and have similar metabolic stability to psilocybin, with the aim of finding a suitable substitute for psilocybin in the treatment of various mental health disorders. The experimental approach involves the synthesis of a number of psilocin esters, which will then be analyzed for solubility, chemical stability, and metabolic stability. By developing these prodrugs, this research project aims to overcome the limitations of current methods of psilocybin synthesis and increase access to this promising therapy for those in need.
Bio: I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in neurochemistry at Uppsala University, Sweden, after completing a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. My passion for psychedelics started when I was offered to try them a couple of years ago. I realized that these magical compounds helped me cope with my autism, opening up a new world for me. This pivotal moment ignited a desire to understand the potential of these substances, leading me to pursue advanced studies in the field. With a fondness for thinking outside the box, I enjoy spending my spare time teaching my pony to perform unique tricks, including painting with a brush held in its mouth. This creative approach to life and learning is just one example of the distinctive perspective I bring to the study of psychedelics and neurochemistry. Driven by curiosity and determination, my ultimate goal is to continue exploring the potential of psychedelics through a PhD program and make a meaningful impact in the field of mental health care by pushing the boundaries of knowledge. I am thrilled to embark on this journey towards revolutionizing our approach to mental health treatments.
Rachel Rumstein (she/her)
Psychedelics in Artificial Neural Networks: Why, How, and What We Have to Gain
Abstract: Psychedelic experiences are complex and multi-faceted, involving a dizzying cascade of changes in perception, emotions, and cognition. While it is possible to simulate some aspects of these experiences in artificial neural networks (ANNs), it is unlikely that we can fully capture the subjective nature of such experiences. While some psychedelic practitioners might argue that the single most defining quality of the psychedelic experience is its highly subjective, often ineffable or numinous nature, this presentation seeks to capture the psychedelic experience in some meaningful qualitative way, and explore possibilities of modeling and simulation of its effects. Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) learn by processing examples of known input and output pairs. They then form probability-weighted associations between the two and store newly learned associations in the data structure of the network itself. This project aims to stimulate the effects of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in ANNs using data collected from the seminal research of Rick Strassman M.D., the first and most comprehensive study of DMT’s physiological, psychiatric, psychological, and spiritual effects since its control under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. By training ANNs to simulate the effects of this substance as accurately as possible, we stand to glean the benefits of a more granular understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying psychedelic experiences, expand the already rapidly sublimating horizons of music and art and storytelling generated by Open AI, revolutionize the field of consciousness study, and create fully simulated and controlled environments for the training and education of practitioners of psychedelic-assisted therapies.
Bio: Rachel Rumstein is a second-year student of Cognitive Science at Columbia University in NYC where she lives. As the leader of a vibrant meditation community on campus, Rachel’s curiosity and passion for all things mind, mindfulness, and mind-manifesting have led her to specialize in the intersection of psychedelics and Cognitive Science. After her first encounter with altered states of consciousness during a meditation retreat in high school, Rachel has been insatiably curious about the neurological conditions that allow those experiences to arise, and about other methods of cultivating those transformative states. Through her research, Rachel is seeking to answer the question of how uniquely human the psychedelic experience truly is, and whether Artificial Intelligence can serve to deepen our understanding of its transformative properties. In addition to her participation in PsychedelX, Rachel’s exploration of psychedelics, cognition, and consciousness have manifested in an interview-style podcast entitled SOMA: Stories of Modern Awakening, which will soon be entering its second season of production.
On Spasticity as a Safety Consideration Following Intake of Serotonergic Psychedelic Substances in People with Spinal Cord Injury
Abstract: Serotonergic agonists are known to increase spinal motor neuron excitability, yet the theoretical neurotherapeutic benefits, and potential risks such as spasticity, of serotonergic psychedelics remain understudied in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Therefore I will be talking about a research project I conducted where I examine the effect that psychedelic subtances have on spasticity in SCI.
Bio: I’m studying medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. I wrote my thesis at the university of Miami during the spring of -23 that was about how psychedelic substances affect spasticity in spinal cord injury patients.
I currently live in Stockholm, Sweden and I’m interested in the effect that psychedelics have on spinal cord injury patients because there is a knowledge gap that exists in this field.
I like to paint, read and write!
Day 2: Culture, Art, & Philosophy
KEYNOTE: Jay and Lindy Nelson
The Evolution of Consciousness and The Consciousness of Evolution
Description: The Transcendent or “mystical-type” experience is the key to the maximization of healing. Aside from it being subjectively rated as one of the five most important experiences of a person’s life, it may also be of note that only the most profound healing occurs after a patient undergoes one of these impossible-to-describe experiences. That actually the level of entropy the brain gets into is directly correlated with the amount of “openness” and changes in personality one has.1 Whether it’s for treating addictions, anxiety, or overcoming depression, the literature is quite suggestive that the transcendent or “mystical-type” experience is the key component to the maximization of healing.2-7 But why? And what exactly is it about this experience that changes people? In this talk, we expose not only the four rites of passage one must go through inside a transcendent experience, but we also explain the why. In other words, there’s this grand realization about life one often comes to at the peak of one of these experiences, and we want to explain what that revelation is, and why the transcendent or “mystical-type” experience is fundamental to understanding ‘what’ consciousness is.
Bio: Jay Nelson is an author, researcher, and award-winning screenwriter obsessed with three questions: (i) What is consciousness? (ii) Is there an edge of experience? And (iii) How best to explain ecological awareness? After originally getting his start in acting, Jay soon found a love for psychology and explaining the human mind. But after a near-death-experience realigned all of his perceptions in 2013, he started moonlighting in neuroscience, philosophy, and evolutionary biology. He has been called a philosopher, a shaman, and a man of science. But, by his own description, he’s a “moderately well-read person who wants to test the limits of human perception.” You can find him online at www.jaynelson.com.
Lindy Nelson is a lifelong student of what makes a human a human. She has always believed that we are more alike than we are different, and is forever on the journey towards a better understanding of how to share that knowledge. From managing escape rooms to restaurants, film sets to corporate offices, she is adept at seeing all of the pieces that make up the whole. She leads with patience and the mantra that we should each use what we have to improve where we can.
Michael Gomez (he/him)
Inclusive Learning: A Discourse on Undergraduate Psychedelic Education
Abstract: Over the past couple of decades, a renewal of interest in psychedelic research has ensued into what is known as the “Psychedelic Renaissance”. As a result of this renewed interest in
psychedelia, a number of academic research centers and initiatives for psychedelic studies have
been established. However, many of these opportunities are not accessible to undergraduate
students as can be seen through the lack of collegiate-level courses focused on psychedelics. This
becomes problematic because it is through undergraduate exposure that we inspire the next
generation of psychedelic academics and leaders. Furthermore, the omission of undergraduate
exposure limits the progression of psychedelia since it delays advanced study as many students
have to gain foundational knowledge during their graduate studies. In order to benefit from
undergraduate learning, it is also essential to consider a framework for the curricula that is
representative of the interdisciplinarity of psychedelia and prepares students to contribute to the
psychedelic space. Considering that introductory curricula at the undergraduate level is meant for
breadth, it is of vital importance to develop educational methodologies that would provide an
undergraduate holistic approach to psychedelia. In particular, it is essential to include indigenous
perspectives and histories related to psychedelics to prevent compromising these marginalized
communities and to increase the chance of innovative clinical designs. Overall, this project seeks
to unravel the layers of undergraduate psychedelic education and ways in which curricula can be
implemented for marginalized community benefit. The topic of psychedelic education has not
been discussed much in psychedelic circles, but it is vital because it is through these educational
opportunities that we prepare the next generation of psychedelic academics. Furthermore, it is
imperative to establish an educational framework so that we can garner benefit from
psychedelics but ensure that we are not acting in ways that hurt or ignore marginalized
Bio: I am a current sophomore at Harvard College studying Statistics with an Economics minor and interested in pursuing an MD-PhD after undergrad. I am of Colombian descent, but I was born and raised in Fairview, New Jersey. I am interested in psychedelics because I believe that they can serve as powerful tools for LGBTQIA+ and POC communities in helping address trauma and distress rooted in negative LGBTQIA+/POC-lived experiences. I am also interested in the intersection of immunology and psychedelics as I believe that it is an understudied field that has a lot of potential. Outside of my academic life, I love playing volleyball, tumbling, drawing, and cooking!
Humans in Wonderland (What Worlds Can We Envision After Legalising Psychedelics?)
Abstract: This talk is an invitation to reflect on the potential impact that psychedelics can have on western societies. We will go through some reflections on the current perception of western societies and mental health, how psychedelics are being used in different contexts, the psychedelic landscape, the different actors and interests involved, the potential and the risks and what are some of the possible outcomes. I would like to encourage all of us, as psychedelic practitioners, to think about our values and what is the vision we hold for the massive usage of psychedelic drugs.
Bio: I studied Sociology with a specialisation in cultural studies at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I currently live in Berlin. I have a passion for psychedelics and the social impact they can have to build communities with different values. I have been working doing research in tech companies for the last 8 years, producing data to inform business strategy and building digital products within multidisciplinary teams. I would love to use my skills to contribute to psychedelic related companies and organisations to build programs and products that can empower people to use psychedelics in a healing and transformative way, as well as reducing the risks.
Turn On, Tune In, and Drop It Like It's Hot: Exploring the Role of Music in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
Abstract: Psychedelic assisted therapies are becoming of significant interest to treating a range of mental health conditions, and there is growing interest in using music as a key component of this approach. Music has been shown to have a powerful impact on mood, emotional processing, and consciousness, making it an ideal tool for enhancing the therapeutic experience in psychedelic-assisted therapy. However, despite the potential benefits of using music in this context, there is still much that we do not know about how music affects the therapeutic process. This exploratory presentation will investigate, a set of recommendations for using music in psychedelic-assisted therapy based on a review of the existing academic literature. My recommendations is designed to help therapists and researchers within the psychedelic-assisted therapy field to effectively think about the music in their work to enhance the therapeutic experience and promote positive outcomes for participants.
Bio: My name is James Hosobe and I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. I am an M.S student at the University of Wisconsin’s school of Pharmacy investigating psychoactive pharmaceuticals. My educational background is in Zen Buddhism and medicinal chemistry, and I wrote my senior capstone on Japan’s high suicide rates during my senior capstone.
I am drawn to the study of psychedelics due to their profound impact on consciousness and spirituality. The complexities surrounding psychedelics intrigue me and could give clarity into end-of-life care, enabling individuals to cope with terminal illness and gain a deeper understanding of death. Moreover, psychedelics have shown promise in fostering creativity, driving research advancements, and could aid the treatment of substance abuse disorders. The multifaceted nature of psychedelics and how they relate to music fuels my interest in exploring this field.
Currently, I reside in Madison, WI, and in my free time, I enjoy playing No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker, lifting weights, and learning about new psychoactive compounds. During undergrad, I was a cheerleader and played baritone saxophone in the jazz band.
Rain Gideon (she/her)
Photography as a Therapeutic Modality Following PAT: An Integration Model
Abstract: Digital photography is an accessible medium and therapeutic tool that increases mindfulness, creativity, self-efficacy, and disclosure (Gibson, 2018). In this presentation, I will chart the key challenges that practitioners are facing in integrating Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy (PAT) into clients’ day-to-day lives and suggest photography as a therapeutic intervention. Empowering clients to express themselves through photographs could aid in integration sessions where one of the goals is to process the psychedelic experience for continued healing. Therapeutic photography and its ability to center “the present” couples powerfully with other therapeutic techniques that have successfully guided individuals in their healing.
Bio: Rain is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and curator who is a second year MSW/MFA at the University of Pennsylvania. In her research and practice, Rain explores altered states of consciousness, the expanded fields of photography & imaging, memory, and personal history.
Rain has served in roles at a variety of cultural institutions, schools, community centers, and hospitals, including Penn Memory Center, Las Fotos Project (LA), NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYU Prison Education Program, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Philly), MOCA (LA), and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Intensive Care Nursery, among others. Rain has received grants and fellowships from the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, Imagining America, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Photoville & PhotoWings, and SP2 & Weitzman at Penn, including a full scholarship for her MFA coursework.
Rain currently lives in West Philadelphia, PA with her partner and 2 rabbits.
Mitsu Puri (she/her/hers)
Psychedelic Liminality and Decolonization
Abstract: With the ongoing discussion of certain psychedelics as non-specific catalysts and amplifiers, the matrix from which one enters into and re-emerges from psychedelic experiences warrants exploration. If an ethic of decolonization is adopted prior to or after an experience, how does it disrupt coloniality (i.e. knowledge production, culture, intersubjective relations)? Is the process of decolonization a synthesis of colonial, decolonial structures and the imaginative unknown? What role does allyship with psychedelics play in this process? Does the ontological and epistemic instability following psychedelic experiences for some make them vulnerable to becoming agents of reinforcing dominant philosophical structures or make room for novel ways of being and knowing?
Bio: Mitsu Puri (she/her) is a researcher and community builder interested in the clinical, philosophical, sociocultural, political and historical dimensions of alternative states of consciousness and contemplative practices. She completed her masters in clinical psychology from Columbia University in 2022, where her research focus was on spiritual awareness pedagogy, and the therapeutic potential of spirit-mind-body interventions on wellbeing. She is a research assistant at the Psychedelic Humanities Lab at the New School for Social Research. She is also a founding member of the Asian Psychedelic Collective, a space of education, advocacy and collective healing and liberation for Asians working with psychedelics. She has a background in substance use treatment and harm reduction, and currently volunteers as a psychedelic peer supporter at Fireside Project. Mitsu was born in India and raised in Indonesia and Malaysia. She currently resides in NYC.
Day 3: Clinical Psychology
KEYNOTE: Meghan DellaCrosse
From Art Historian to Psychedelic Scientist: Getting to Know Your Vehicle
Bio: Meghan DellaCrosse, Psy.D., is a strengths-oriented clinical psychologist specializing in working with people with serious mental illness and applying acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions. She completed pre-doctoral internship training at the Early Psychosis Intervention Center at the Ohio State University (OSU) Medical Center, and received her doctorate from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. Currently, Dr. DellaCrosse is a post-doctoral scholar working with Dr. Alan K. Davis at the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education at the OSU College of Social Work (Columbus, OH). She has worked with the TrPR program at UCSF investigating psilocybin’s effect on mental health conditions such as depression, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as bipolar disorder in collaboration with the CREST.BD group at the University of British Columbia. As a psychedelic researcher, Dr. DellaCrosse is interested in understanding the subjective experiences and therapeutic impact of psychedelic drugs in the contexts of understudied conditions and populations, as well as risk and safety issues. As a researcher-clinician, Dr. DellaCrosse is motivated by her interests in trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approaches, as well as her lifetime research goal to advance our understanding of body/mind relationships in mental health care.
She has worked with adults in community mental health, primary care, academic, and VA medical settings. Her interests have been cultivated through provision of evidence-based treatments to underserved patient populations with a wide range of acuity, trauma, substance use, medical conditions, and psychosocial barriers to care, in addition to mental health field work and training in Sri Lanka and India. Dr. DellaCrosse is passionate about interdisciplinary research and appreciates the depth and critical thinking that her previous career in academic art history and qualitative research brings to present endeavors. As the daughter of public-school educators, Dr. DellaCrosse is a lifelong learner, deeply values the mentorship she has received from many mentors, and loves providing it to aspiring researchers and clinicians.
Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelics in Postpartum and Miscarriage-Related Depression
Abstract: Mothers who are in the pregancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum periods are often overlooked and underprioritized in clinical trials. Postpartum and miscarriage related depression affects at minimum 1 out 5 mothers, and has many consequences for both mother and baby if left untreated. While there is a great deal of research looking at psychedelics for other psychiatric conditions, postpartum and miscarriage depression have not been prioritized and can greatly benefit from larger investment, inclusion, and prioritization of mother’s needs and the unique role that psychedelic assisted psychotherapy can play in treating these conditions.
Bio: Shaili is a currently 4th year medical student at UC Irvine School of Medicine. She recently completed an Interdisciplinary MPH (Master’s of Public Health) at UC Berkeley, focusing her research on the impacts of culture on mental health and coping styles.
Shaili became interested in psychedelic science during her undergraduate & MPH years at UC Berkeley — initially through hearing the experiences of others and seeing the profound benefits it had on their lives, and later through a student-run Psychedelic Science community at Cal. She strives to continue learning more about the neuroscience of psychedelics and their therapeutic potential in psychiatry, with a focus on expanding their reach to under-resourced and clinically overlooked populations. Shaili is also very passionate about women’s health, empowering youth, sex education, and linguistic and cultural equity within healthcare.
While Shaili currently resides in Southern California, she is originally from the Bay Area, California. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, doing triathlons, going to the beach, playing music, and learning new languages.
Jenelle Noell (she/they)
Holistic Integration For PTSD Recovery
Abstract: Being that post-traumatic stress disorder involves heightened and sustained maladaptive biological responses, the task of stabilizing a survivor before psychedelic treatments may be complicated to navigate, and necessary to consider. This presentation explores personal anecdotes regarding the usage of several anti-inflammatory, amino acid, and dietary supplements as synergistic and accessible components of an ongoing and holistic recovery process.
Bio: Hey all! I’m a Philadelphia native, completing my Master of Social Service (MSW equivalent) degree with the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. I first learned of psychedelic-assisted therapy as a 10 year old, when I stumbled upon the research conducted by MAPS during one of many curious deep web dives. As a child, I realized psychedelics could aid in the alleviation of trauma in underserved communities, as well as in the world at large; as an adult, I get to support this belief with my story. Fun fact: I am combining the creative ideas sourced from my 20+ years spent “inward” to create an experimental visual art and music production project that illustrates my perspective.
Maya Amélie Seale (she/her)
Can Psychedelics Treat or Prevent Cognitive Dementia? Insights From Network Neuroscience and Beyond
Abstract: This talk will tell a story of dementia progression from the perspective of network neuroscience, speculating on the role psychedelics might play in this story. While diving into network neuroscience, this talk strives to be accessible to an audience new to neuroscience. Dementia refers to cognitive decline that affects life functioning, caused by a variety of brain pathologies, including the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s. The loss of cognitive functioning associated with dementia has devastating effects on quality of life. Due to a lack of effective treatments, there is a grave need for innovative therapeutics, sparking interest in the use of psychedelics. However, our understanding of the overall effects of psychedelics on cognitive functioning remains limited, and the use of psychedelics for treating and preventing dementia has yet to be formally tested. One arena of study that has been overlooked when unwrapping this complexity is network neuroscience, a discipline that has independently generated insights in research on both psychedelics and dementia. For example, in the study of dementia, there is evidence of a missing link between brain pathology and cognitive decline. Some individuals with similar levels of brain pathology may experience dementia, while others remain cognitively healthy. Recently, functional imaging used in cognitive network neuroscience has become a powerful window into future dementia. A robust (N = 265) longitudinal study found that decreases in brain network segregation are predictive of worsened cognitive decline up to 10 years past the last scan, independent of brain pathology (Chan et al, 2021). On the other hand, psilocybin decreases brain network segregation while tripping (Daws et al., 2022), and how this interacts with aging is unclear and complex. For example, the lasting effects of psychedelics on brain networks beyond one week after dosing remain unclear (McCulloch et al., 2022).This talk will dive into neurobiological network models of aging and psychedelics to unpack the complexity beyond network segregation, ultimately stressing the need for hard data to make conclusions. Finally, this talk will argue that an upcoming John Hopkins clinical trial looking at psilocybin for depression in people with early Alzheimer’s is not equipped to detect possible interactions with cognitive decline. This talk argues for this trial to utilize a more robust cognitive outcome measure that is used in clinical trials on treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia, and to have a longer follow up to better capture the long-term effects of psilocybin in this population.
Bio: Maya Amélie Seale (she/her) is a white, able-bodied, woman of trans experience and person with complex trauma, social anxiety, and neurodivergence. Maya’s research interests revolve around interaction design, AI, network neuroscience, gender expansive psychometrics, mental health, minority stress, community psychology, and critical neuroscience. Maya is currently a research assistant at the Wig Neuroimaging Lab studying the influence a person’s life & environment has on brain network predictors of cognitive decline. Recently, she began an internship with the SNaP lab, where she explores how various dimensions of the gender expansive mosaic might affect the outcome of MDMA-assisted group therapy for minority stress. Maya is also a peer volunteer with the Fireside Project, providing support during psychedelic experiences. She credits Audre Lorde, Adrienne Marie Brown, and Julia Serano as writers who have had a significant impact on her personal and academic growth. Maya learned to make sense of transphobia by understanding its connections to colonialism and strives to find solidarity with all oppressed peoples to understand and address the root causes.
Attitudes and Perceptions of Psilocybin Among Clinical Trial Personnel
Abstract: Knowledge surrounding the design and implementation of clinical trials on psilocybin is limited yet it is crucial to improving patient care and clinical outcomes. As such, this research explores the processes, experiences, and perceptions of psilocybin among clinical trial personnel, within the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 29 clinical trial personnel members in six European cities were interviewed and surveyed. This was a cross-sectional mixed-methods study, exploring attitudes, perceptions, and experiences with psilocybin therapy among clinical trial personnel in Europe. An emphasis was placed on understanding barriers and facilitators to psilocybin research, particularly in the context of COVID-19. Findings did not reflect previous research that identified stigma around psychedelics among clinical psychologists, healthcare workers, and clinical social workers. Consistent with prior research, clinical trial personnel expressed safety concerns, as reflected by the high number of trials investigating the safety of psilocybin. Data collected point to ease of recruitment and treatment, but barriers to treatment access, particularly for racial and ethnic minorities. Overall, clinical trial personnel expressed optimism toward patient experiences with psilocybin, however this effect was more pronounced in female personnel. Results provided support for several components of the psychedelic-assisted therapy paradigm, indicating that these should be retained in future treatment models. In contrast to the researchers’ expectations, COVID-19 did not considerably impact trial processes and experiences. Overall, the study catalyzed a more complete picture of psilocybin research and its unique barriers and facilitators. This may help address problematic trends in mental health and optimize the potential of psilocybin as a treatment.
Bio: Jeremy Scott is a Research Assistant at Duke University, working under Dr. Paul Seli in the Mind at Large Lab. He is also a Robertson Scholar. Jeremy is graduating in May 2023 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also completed a minor in Sociology at Duke University. Jeremy is from Melbourne, Australia but currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC. He is interested in psychedelics because of their illumination of questions about consciousness and the brain-mind continuum, alongside their vast potential to improve wellbeing. Jeremy’s favorite hobbies are backpacking, fishing, and SCUBA diving.
Hannah Hilgeman (she/her)
The Potential of Psilocybin in Treatment of Bipolar II Disorder Depressive Symptoms
Abstract: Bipolar disorder is a disabling mental illness that affects 4.4% of the United States population (www.nimh.nih.gov). Within this disorder are several subtypes, including bipolar I and bipolar II disorders. Bipolar I includes full manic episodes whereas bipolar II includes hypomanic episodes and major depressive episodes by diagnostic definition. Bipolar II depression is specifically heinous and debilitating, as the majority of a diagnosed bipolar II patient’s time is spent in depression rather than in hypomania. Major depressive episodes significantly decrease social capability, productivity, and overall quality of life. Antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs, run the risk of producing hypomanic symptoms for these patients. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics can alleviate depressive symptoms, but most of these medications are only researched for bipolar I disorder and not bipolar II specifically. Additionally, unwanted side effects of these medications can decrease quality of life and cause subsequent syndromes, making their usage not ideal. Therefore, a novel treatment for bipolar II disorder is necessary for treating these major depressive episodes in addition to alleviating disability in these patients. Psychedelics, especially psilocybin, have been researched in unipolar depressive disorders with success. However, it is unclear if the same positive effects of psilocybin could translate to alleviation of depressive symptoms in bipolar II patients. More research is needed to determine if treatment with psilocybin could assist with lessening depressive symptoms or possibly stop a major depressive episode after dosing with psilocybin in a controlled clinical environment.
Bio: Hannah Hilgeman is originally from Boise, Idaho, but lives in New Orleans as a MS student in Cell and Molecular Biology at Tulane University. She has lived experience with bipolar II disorder and aims to educate people about lesser known mental health conditions. She became interested in psychedelics after taking a course about psychedelics in her master’s program. Outside of school, Hannah enjoys creative writing, walking on nature trails, and spending time with her dog. She will soon begin working as a clinical research coordinator after graduating with her MS degree in spring 2023.
Opportunities and Limitations of Client-Centered Therapy Working with Clients who Consume Psilocybin Mushrooms
urrent methods of psilocybin synthesis and increase access to this promising therapy for those in need.
Bio: I hold a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After graduation, I moved to Australia, where I spent three years working with people with Autism Spectrum disorder and adults with physical disabilities. I’m studying a master’s degree program in humanistic psychotherapy at UVAQ, a private University in Morelia, Mexico. My interest in psychedelics began after my first psilocybin experience in Canada in 2021. I’m interested in these mushrooms’ potential benefits in helping people understand more about themselves and their connection to the planet Earth. I’m also fascinated by learning more about the ceremonial and ancestral use of these mushrooms by different Indigenous People in Mexico. I have a blog where I write about psychology, anthrozoology and ethology. I have a casual job as a dog walker and practice trail running.