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UW-Madison announces new psychoactive substance research center

Rennebohm Hall is pictured at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 7, 2020. The building...
Rennebohm Hall is pictured at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 7, 2020. The building is home to the School of Pharmacy. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)(Bryce Richter | University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:32 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:37 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced Monday the creation of their Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances, a research center dedicated to ongoing research and education in psychedelic compounds.

According to a UW-Madison release, the center will conduct research into the science, history and cultural impact of psychedelic agents, as well as potential therapeutic use of psychoactive substances.

“From cannabis to psilocybin and MDMA (more commonly known as ecstasy), psychoactive agents are the new frontier for potential new therapies and medications,” Paul Hutson, founding center director and UW–Madison School of Pharmacy professor said.

The center will be housed within the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, and will be a partner of the School of Pharmacy’s Master of Science program in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation, a program which offers the first accredited U.S. degree focused on the student and therapeutic development of psychedelic compounds and related psychoactive drugs.

In addition to its biomedical and clinical research focus, the center also seeks to increase participation in research by underrepresented groups, the release said.

“There is a substantial imbalance in the numbers of Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American research participants in studies of psilocybin and other psychoactive medications. The center will seek opportunities to improve the representation of minorities, elderly, and marginalized groups in the forthcoming research on psychedelics,” Hutson said.

Four clinical trials in phases 1 to 3 are currently underway at UW-Madison. The efficacy of MDMA in treating PTSD, as well as the use of psilocybin as treatment for major depression and opioid addiction are among the topics currently being researched.

“In light of the opioid crisis and the ever-increasing mental health needs stemming from the pandemic, the growing list of psychedelic compounds shows tremendous promise in early clinical studies in helping patients with addiction and psychiatric disorders,” says Hutson. “We plan to continue being on the forefront of this field with innovation and development of novel therapies through our research and educational programs on psychoactive agents.”

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