- April 30, 2016
- 7:00 pm
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
TICKETS $15/$20 at the door
Beginning with his graduate studies in 1969, Dr. David Nichols began research on drug molecules known then as “psychotomimetics.” This talk will roughly chronicle his journey from 1969 until the present, presenting advances in the evolution of thinking about these drugs, now popularly called psychedelics. Early work was carried out without knowledge of the biochemical targets for psychedelics in the brain, and hypotheses were proposed that simple molecules such as mescaline and related compounds had a molecular structural similarity to LSD. Dr. Nichols tested these ideas in his research and found that there was no structural similarity between mescaline-like compounds and LSD. His laboratory then carried out extensive studies over many years to identify the shape, or conformation, that psychedelic phenethylamines adopted when they bound to their brain receptors. When MDMA (Ecstasy) became popular, his laboratory was the first to report on how MDMA produced its effects, and he demonstrated scientifically that MDMA was a unique class of drug, which he named “entactogens.” He will describe many of the approaches he employed, and will attempt to bring his explanations down to the level of the non-specialist.
David E. Nichols, PhD is Adjunct Professor of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC, Chapel Hill. Previously he held the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology and was a Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy. He also was Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1969, and a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1973, followed by postdoctoral work in pharmacology, also at Iowa. He joined Purdue as an Assistant Professor in 1974 where he remained until his retirement in June 2012. He has published more than 300 scientific articles, is recognized as a leading authority on psychedelics, and is the founding president of the Heffter Research Institute.