Psychedelic Research: From Brain Imaging to Policy Reform
David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci
My talk will outline the research contribution made by brain imaging of psilocybin and LSD under the Beckley-Imperial College research programme to our understanding of how these drugs work in the brain. I will show how these novel findings help underpin research into their therapeutic uses and make a strong case for policy change to allow them to be used much more easily in medical research and treatment.
David Nutt, Ph.D., is currently the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology in the Division of Brain Science, Dept of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. He is also visiting professor at the Open University in the UK and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
After 11+ entry to Bristol Grammar he won an Open Scholarship to Downing College Cambridge, then completed his clinical training at Guy's Hospital London. After a period in neurology to MRCP he moved to Oxford to a research position in psychiatry at the MRC Clinical Pharmacology Unit where he obtained his MD. On completing his psychiatric training in Oxford, he continued there as a lecturer and then later as a Wellcome Senior Fellow in psychiatry. He then spent two years as Chief of the Section of Clinical Science in the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in NIH, Bethesda, USA. He returned to England in 1988 to set up the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol University, an interdisciplinary research grouping spanning the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, before moving to Imperial College London in December 2008 where he leads a similar group with a particular focus on brain imaging, especially Positron Emission Topography.
He is currently President of the European Brain Council and Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and has previously been President of the British Neuroscience Association, the British Association of Psychopharmacology and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology as well as Chair of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, of Psychiatrists and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is also the UK Director of the European Certificate and Masters in Affective Disorders courses and a member of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. He has edited the Journal of Psychopharmacology for over twenty years and acts as the psychiatry drugs advisor to the British National Formulary. He has published over 450 original research papers, over 500 reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 31 books, including one for the general public, ‘Drugs Without the Hot Air’, which won the Transmission book prize in 2014 for Communication of Ideas.
David broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television; highlights include being a subject for The Life Scientific on BBC radio 4, several BBC Horizon programs and the Channel 4 documentaries Ecstasy and Cannabis Live. David is much in demand for public affairs programs on therapeutic as well as illicit drugs, their harms and their classification. In 2016 he was advisor to the BBC Religious affairs dept on their groundbreaking programme on psychedelics in religion http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0438553 . He also lecturers widely to the scientific and medical communities as well as to the public e.g. at the Cheltenham Science and Hay How the Light Gets In Festivals, Glastonbury and other music festivals as well as many Café Scientifiques and Skeptics in the Pub. He also speaks regularly to schools.
In 2010 The Times Eureka science magazine voted him one of the 100 most important figures in British Science, and the only psychiatrist in the list. In 2013 he was awarded the Nature/Sense about Science John Maddox prize for Standing up for Science and in 2016 an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath for contributions to science and policy.