Renowned Mount Sinai Health System Launches Center for Psychedelic Research

The renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health Systems has launched the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research. Psychedelic science and research have been the cornerstone of its modern renaissance and this move follows on the heels of other leading academic institutions establishing similar centers, such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research. This cutting-edge research institution will take a multipronged “clinical and research approach to discovering novel and more efficacious therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other stress-related conditions in the veteran and civilian population.” The Center is focusing their efforts on studying the effects of MDMA, psilocybin, and other psychedelic compounds in the treatment of difficult to treat mental health concerns. 

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Psychedelics Have Already Shown Promising Efficacy in Mental Illness Treatment

Currently, both psilocybin and MDMA are being expedited through clinical trials in the United States after being granted “breakthrough therapy” status by the FDA. Studies have shown MDMA is remarkably effective in the treatment of PTSD, a condition currently lacking any genuinely effective pharmacological interventions. Additionally, psilocybin has shown incredible efficacy in helping patients with treatment-resistant depression and addiction, both severely underserved populations. As these clinical trials expand in size and scope, centers such Mount Sinai’s will be critical to better understanding these compounds and their role in treating mental illness. 

Psychedelic Research Center Will Focus on Bringing Psychedelic Medicine to the Mainstream

The innovative center at Mount Sinai will conduct clinical trials to help bring psychedelic drugs, like MDMA, through the regulatory pipeline and into mainstream society. The Center is led by Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Yehuda is also Director of Mental Health at the Bronx VA Medical Center and Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Program at Mount Sinai, a program she founded in 1991. She has a decorated track record of research accomplishments in the study of traumatic stress conditions. Dr. Yehuda has also recently completed clinician training for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). 

 

“People taking MDMA report feelings of introspection, connectedness, compassion towards self and others, empathy, and increased interpersonal trust, which are optimal conditions for engaging in the processing of difficult or traumatic material,” said Dr. Yehuda. “It is important that we listen to people’s subjective experiences with these compounds and then study therapeutic possibilities through rigorous clinical trials.”

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Four Key Focuses of Mount Sinai’s New Psychedelic Research Center

The bold new research center has four key focuses:

    1. Training and Education: MAPS will offer training programs for mental healthcare workers to get trained in providing psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. 
    2. Clinical Trials: The center will conduct clinical trials to investigate conditions like PTSD and their response to treatments like MDMA
    3. Basic Science and Translational Neuroscience Research: This element will explore the biological mechanisms of action of psychedelic drugs, from cellular biology to neuroscience.
    4. Collaboration and Public Education: The center will establish a consortium composed of other leading research institutions to facilitate collaboration and further academic discourse around these novel treatment approaches. 

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Closing Thoughts

“New approaches are desperately needed for the millions of people, both civilians and veterans, who suffer from PTSD,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System. “Researchers at the Mount Sinai Health System are at the forefront of uncovering the biological causes of these disorders, and we understand that the future of psychotherapy must include research into existing compounds, and not just the discovery of new drugs and therapies. Under Dr. Yehuda’s leadership, The Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research will provide better understanding of how this particular treatment works and of the mechanisms of resilience and recovery for some of the most devastating psychiatric disorders.”

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