Northern California Science Writers Association

UCSF's Joshua Woolley: The Return of Psychedelic Therapy

  • Tuesday, December 08, 2020
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • A free Zoom event


  • (one guest allowed at member rate)

Banned since the days of Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out”), psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA are making a comeback in research and treatment for severe depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems.

Clinical trials testing the benefits of hallucinogenic drugs have already shown promising responses among depressed or anxious patients with terminal cancer and other conditions. Subjects have experienced significant drops in emotional distress--arising in part from what they describe as mystical experiences. Researchers are also using neuroimaging to explore the biological underpinnings of the responses, including perceived mystical insights.

Joshua Woolley, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF, has carried out clinical trials using psilocybin to treat demoralized long-term AIDS survivors. He is part of a multisite clinical trial using MDMA, or ecstasy, to treat emotional problems in PTSD patients, and he is planning psilocybin trials to treat depression in patients with chronic pain, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson’s.

Dr. Woolley will offer an overview of research and treatment nationwide, describe novel treatment protocols, and present results from the re-emerging strategies to treat severe emotional problems with hallucinogens.

NOTE: Registered attendees and their guests will be sent Zoom coordinates by email the day before the event.

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