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Mass General Opens Center to Study Psychedelics in Treatment of Mental Illness

March 15, 2021

Massachusetts General Hospital recently announced the opening of a new program to study the use of psychedelics to treat mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety and PTSD.

The Center for Neuroscience of Psychedelics is a collaboration between the hospital’s psychiatry department, the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in its radiology department, and its Center for Genomic Medicine’s chemical neurobiology lab. Researchers in the center aim to better understand how psychedelics enhance the brain’s capacity for change—knowledge that can be used to enhance current treatments and develop new modalities. Initial studies will analyze how psilocybin affects brain circuits of patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The center is led by director Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief emeritus. Other members of the leadership team are: Sharmin Ghaznavi, MD, PhD, associate director who will lead cognitive neuroscience initiatives, Stephen J. Haggarty, PhD, scientific director of chemical neurobiology, and Franklin King, MD, education and therapist training director.

“In the last couple decades, the possibility of using psychedelics for treatment of psychiatric illness has seen a renaissance, and the evidence so far is compelling enough to warrant investigation of their potential and their effects on the brain,” Ghaznavi said in a statement. “We are focused on understanding how psychedelics impact the brain, from neurons to networks, to bring about the kind of change that provides meaningful and sustained relief for our patients suffering with mental illness.”

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