December 13, 2022

New center takes multidisciplinary approach to the study of psychedelics

A new center launched earlier this year will focus on developing a deeper understanding of the brain through the study of psychedelics. The Michigan Psychedelic Center, or M-PsyC, aims to advance multidisciplinary education, research, patient care, and community engagement related to psychedelics.

George Mashour MD, PhD
Michigan Psychedelic Center Founding Director George A. Mashour, M.D., Ph.D

“We are in the midst of a renaissance related to psychedelic neuroscience and therapy,” said George A. Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., who is founding director of the center and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. “Psychedelics are powerful tools to understand consciousness and also have potential to treat psychiatric disease. Our aim with the Michigan Psychedelic Center is to advance scientific understanding and clinical care through a responsible and rigorous approach.”

The center is bringing together academic faculty, researchers, health care practitioners, and students across the medical school and main campus to study psychedelics across the translational spectrum, from fundamental understanding to improved health. M-PsyC collaborators already cover a range of expertise — from neuroscience, psychiatry, pain medicine, and pharmacology, to psychology, social work, drug discovery, and the arts — with the center actively engaging units across the institution for additional partners.  

“This topic is inherently multidimensional and has implications across so many different domains,” Mashour said.

“So, to have a center focused on psychedelics at a major research institution like the University of Michigan — which has such incredible intellectual resources — is an opportunity to bring together a network of experts to make meaningful contributions to the field and to the communities we serve in Michigan and beyond.”

Researchers can connect with other investigators and look for opportunities for collaboration through the center’s website, which includes a repository of current psychedelic-related projects. Mashour anticipates clinical studies will begin within the next year. “As we begin our clinical studies, we are mindful of the history of psychedelics. Yes, there is great potential, but we have to be vigilant in adhering to the same rigorous standards with psychedelic research as we would with any other pharmacological therapy,” Mashour said.

The center also is the new sponsor of the Student Association for Psychedelic Studies, which is open to both undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in discussing the therapeutic uses of psychedelics and related political, ethical, and social justice issues.

“Our work is not just conducting research within the four walls of the academy,” Mashour said. “We need to engage with the public to understand their needs and concerns so we can best serve the community as psychedelic therapies become more common and accessible.”