The Beckley-Imperial Psychedelic Research Program

Dave Nutt, PhD



Abstract: The Imperial College-Beckley Foundation research program has developed from the previously successful collaboration at the University of Bristol (UK). We conduct brain imaging research in the field of psychoactive drugs that have interesting and important effects on brain function and which may translate in therapeutic possibilities. So far, we have conducted the first UK psilocybin studies using both MRI and MEG techniques and also created a method for delivering smoked cannabis for use in imaging studies. We also collaborated with the UK Channel 4 television station to conduct the first study of MDMA that was broadcast live (“Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial”). This work is challenging, particularly in terms of dealing with regulatory issues, but our results show that overcoming these challenges can lead to hugely important insights into consciousness and core brain functions.

David Nutt, DM FRCP, FRCPsych, FSB, FMedSci, is currently the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. After 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 is currently Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, Past-President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), Vice-President of the European Brain Council, and President of the British Neuroscience Association. Professor Nutt is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He has been editor of the Journal of Psychopharmacology for over a decade and acts as the psychiatric drugs advisor to the British National Formulary. He has published over 400 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs, and 26 books, including his most recent, Drugs without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs (2012).