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WN@TL: “Psychedelics as Catalysts for Change”
December 1, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm
Speaker: Cody Wenthur, Pharmacy
Bio: Cody Wenthur is an innovative, translational investigator in psychopharmacology who has been on the UW–Madison faculty since 2018. His work is focused on improving our understanding of the basis for beneficial and detrimental effects of opioids, cannabinoids, psychedelics, and other neuroplasticity-inducing approaches in the context of novel therapeutic approaches for promoting and maintaining mental health. His research program has received both basic and clinical grant and fellowship support from NIGMS, NIDA, NIMH, independent foundations, and philanthropic funds. The resulting findings have been published in leading journals such as Nature and PNAS and have yielded the development of first-in-class tool compounds and generated new pharmacologic techniques for the investigation of complex psychoactive mixtures. His scientific research is complemented by his dedicated support of graduate education in neuropharmacology, including active service as the founding director of the Psychedelic Pharmaceutical Investigation Master’s program, and mentorship of PharmD and PhD students in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, and Neuroscience Training Programs.
Description: Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy approaches using ketamine, MDMA, or psilocybin have shown substantial promise in human trials for the treatment of difficult psychiatric conditions including end-of-life anxiety, treatment resistant depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, there remain many important questions regarding the mechanisms by which these interventions lead to both rapid and lasting behavioral change. Using translational approaches that range from organic synthesis to human studies, the Wenthur Lab is interrogating the role of acute corticosteroid release in the behavioral outcomes following psilocybin administration, assessing polypharmacologic contributions of active metabolites to ketamine’s functional profile, and investigating how differential self-identity and experiential memory contribute to variation in clinical psychedelic studies. In this talk, Dr. Wenthur will discuss the results of these studies to date, highlighting the possible means by which psychedelics may act as molecular change agents, and he will also share insights into how the design and development of these psychedelic research studies have acted to change the trajectory of his own career development thus far.
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WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central.