David Nichols

ICPR 2024, 6-8 June > Speakers > David Nichols

David E. Nichols

Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy.


David E. Nichols, PhD is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy and was the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology, where he taught and did research for 38 years. He is also Director of Molecular Pharmacology at Eleusis Therapeutics.

In 2004 he was named the Irvine H. Page Lecturer by the International Society for Serotonin Research, received the first Purdue Provost’s Outstanding Graduate Mentor award in 2006 and was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2012. He began studying psychedelics as a graduate student in 1969.  

His lab synthesised DMT for Dr. Rick Strassman, the MDMA for MAPS Phase I and II clinical trials, and the psilocybin used for human clinical studies conducted at Johns Hopkins University. In 1993 he founded the Heffter Research Institute (HRI), which funded the first groundbreaking Phase I and II studies of psilocybin for the treatment of depression, and pilot studies for treating alcohol use disorder, and tobacco addiction. 


Overview of Psychedelics, from Prehistory to the Present

 Some of the groundbreaking projects supported by the Heffter Research Institute, founded by David Nichols in 1993, will be highlighted.

This talk will begin with a brief review of the natural sources of psychedelics that have been used for millennia. That will be followed by a discussion of the 5-HT2A receptors that are the targets for the classic psychedelics; where they are located, and brief comments on the nature and function of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). There will be brief discussion of how psychedelics are tested in animals and then description of some preclinical studies from the Nichols lab, including work to elucidate the conformation of the diethylamide function of LSD. 

In particular, Leucine 229, in extracellular loop 2 of the receptor, was shown to be a critical residue in the receptor kinetics of LSD binding to the receptor. Brief comments will be made on the crystal structure of LSD bound in the 5-HT2B receptor, published in 2017, and of LSD and 25CN-NBOH structures published in 2020. A brief conclusion will note the effect of psychedelics on brain dynamics as a possible mechanism for their therapeutic potential.

Other Speakers at ICPR 2022

Founder and Executive Director at MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, United States

Associate Professor at Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Founder of Fungi Perfecti and CEO of MycoMedica Life Sciences PBC, United States

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About ICPR

The Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research (ICPR) is Europe’s leading academic conference dedicated to advancing psychedelic research and therapies organised by the OPEN Foundation since 2010. ICPR is a biennial conference focused on high-quality scientific and scholarly research into psychedelics. ICPR 2022 is our fifth event. After our hugely successful online conference in 2020, we are returning to the prestigious Philharmonie Theatre for an in-person event! ICPR will take place in Haarlem (next to Amsterdam) from September 22nd to 24th, 2022.