Speakers and Abstracts

Mendel Kaelen, PhD

Mendel Kaelen, PhD is a psychedelic researcher,  neuroscientist and founder and CEO of Wavepaths. At Imperial College London he studied brain mechanisms and use of music in psychedelic therapies. Within Wavepaths Mendel leads a growing team of scientists, artists, therapists and technologists to develop a new category of accessible psychotherapeutic tools and environments that leverage the psychotherapeutic potential of music for/as psychedelic therapy.

Experience as Medicine: Psychedelics, Music, and psychotherapy
This talk will discuss the functions of music in psychedelic therapies, psychotherapeutic mechanisms, and implications for clinical practice


David E. Nichols, PhD

David E. Nichols is a pharmacologist and medicinal chemist, previously the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology at Purdue University. He has worked in the field of psychedelic science since 1969, published over 280 papers on the topic, and personally synthesized a number of novel psychedelic compounds. David is the founding president of the Heffter Research Institute, one of the main driving forces behind the psilocybin research at Johns Hopkins University and NYU.

From Bench to Bedside: Progress in Psychedelic Research
This talk will first present an overview of the historical uses and significance of various naturally occurring psychedelic agents. Then, there will be a short discussion of the brain target for psychedelics, and how they were tested in animal models. There will then be a short “chemistry” discussion, illustrating how certain analogues of LSD were used to predict the orientation of the two ethyl groups of LSD, and how that prediction was validated by solving the crystal structure of LSD bound within the serotonin 5-HT2B receptor. That will be followed by comments about clinical studies of psilocybin supported by the Heffter Research Institute, which was founded by Dr. Nichols in 1993. Finally, concluding remarks will focus on the mechanism whereby psychedelics may bring about therapeutic efficacy.

Matthew Johnson, PhD

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is a leading expert on the effects of psychedelics. He is an experimental psychologist with expertise on psychoactive drugs and the psychology of addiction and risk behavior. Matt has received >8 million US dollars in research funding as principal investigator from the US National Institutes of Health and non-profit foundations. For 20 years he has conducted academic research in psychopharmacology and addictions, and for 14 years he has conducted human research with psychedelics. He has published >100 articles and chapters, with over a third focused on psychedelics. Matt published safety guidelines for human psychedelic research in 2008, which facilitated safe initiation of psychedelic research at a growing number of universities. He has served as guide for >100 psychedelic sessions.

Therapeutic and Behavioral Effects of Psychedelics
For over 15 years the Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Group has been the preeminent and most productive research team in the United States conducting human research with psychedelics. They have shown breathtaking scientific productivity, having published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts on psychedelics. Notable accomplishments have included: The first research since the 1970s to focus on mystical experience resulting from psychedelic administration to drug- naïve volunteers; the development of safety guidelines for human psychedelic research which have advanced the approval of psychedelic research at a growing number of universities; the first research showing that psychedelic administration increases personality openness; the first research examining a psychedelic in the treatment of tobacco/nicotine addiction; the first research demonstrating the psychedelic effects of salvinorin A and dextromethorphan under blind conditions; the development of valid psychological scales for assessing mystical experiences and challenging experiences resulting from acute psychedelic administration; the first study on the effects of psychedelic administration on volunteers initiating a meditation program; and the largest randomized trial showing that psilocybin produces large and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. This presentation will provide a review of this large program of research.

Srinivas Rao, MD, PhD

Srinivas Rao is the Chief Scientific Officer at ATAI Life Sciences AG and the former CEO of Kyalin Biosciences.

Srinivas Rao has been the Chief Medical Officer of multiple biotech companies, including Axial Biotheraputics, Inc., Deposed, Inc. and Kayla Pharmaceuticals. He holds an MD in Internal Medicine from Yale University School of Medicine and a PhD in Neuropharmacology from Yale University. Srinivas has also been an advisory board member to UCSD SDTA and HUYA Bioscience international.

Psychedelics for Depression:  The Promise, Risks, & Costs
Psychedelics hold promise as paradigm shifting therapies for major depressive disorder. In the present talk, I outline the steps required to turn this promise into a reality for patients in need, focusing on the regulatory and payer hurdles that need to be overcome to ensure a patient’s access to such innovative and potentially lifesaving therapies



Bruce Tobin, PhD

Bruce Tobin received his doctorate from the University of Washington, specializing in philosophy of psychology.  He has been in private practice psychotherapy for 35 years, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression and emotional trauma. He taught clinical skills for 25 years at the University of Victoria, where he was Adjunct Assistant Professor and a member of the Graduate Faculty.  He worked under contract with Health Canada for 20 years providing psychological services to First Nations communities in the Victoria area.

Bruce is the Program Director of TheraPsil, a group of health professionals who aim to make psilocybin-assisted treatment legal for end-of-life anxiety in cancer patients in Canada.

Taking a Walk on The Dark Side
If the wheels fall off Psychedelic Renaissance 2.0, it will be because of its greatest enthusiasts, not its skeptics. How can we help ourselves succeed?



Paul Lewin

Paul Lewin is a cannabis lawyer in Toronto who has litigated a vast array of cannabis issues. Paul has litigated the constitutionality of the doctor-as-gatekeeper requirement, patient access to cannabis by mail-order, and the prohibition on the religious use of cannabis. Paul challenged and ended the police practise of accessing hydro consumption records without warrant in order to raid cannabis gardens. Paul has been practising in Toronto for almost 25 years. He is also a long time board member for NORML Canada.

Paul is working pro bono on TheraPsil’s case to legalize medicinal psilocybin for end-of-life cancer patients in Canada.

Thera-Psil: Therapeutic Psilocybin for Canadians in End-of-Life Distress
Paul Lewin and Bruce Tobin give a joint presentation. Bruce describes his quest for permission from Health Canada to use psilocybin in compassionate treatment of terminal cancer patients, and outlines the science and the ethical reasoning behind his application. Paul Lewin presents the legal case for medical psilocybin and charts a way forward.

Rotem Petranker

Rotem Petranker is a PhD student at York University and the Associate Director of the new Center for Psychedelic Studies at the University of Toronto. As part of the team at CPS, Rotem plans to conduct a controlled study on the effects of microdosing, measuring constructs including creativity, wellbeing, mindfulness, and intelligence. Rotem also spoke at last year’s Mapping the Mind, about the first microdosing study ever conducted.

What We Know About Microdosing So Far
The study of microdosing psychedelics is nascent, with very few studies published to date. This talk will delve into the potential microdosing offers for various treatments, review the existing scientific findings, show some of the work conducted by the Psychedelic Studies Research Program at UofT, and offer future directions for the study of psychedelics.

Dr. Emma Hapke

Dr. Emma Hapke is an attending psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario, and a lec- turer at the University of Toronto. Her specialty is in women’s mental health and the treatment of developmental trauma, sexual trauma, and complex PTSD. She has extensive training in multiple modalities of psychotherapy and has worked clinically with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. She is joining the MAPS research team as the Clinical Investigator at the Montreal site for Phase 3 and in developing a study in Toronto combining Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) with MDMA .

MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy
We will explore how MDMA can catalyse psychotherapy for PTSD. We will discuss how MDMA works, what MDMA psychotherapy looks like and how it brings about change for people suffering from PTSD. We will provide an update on Phase 3 clinical research and look to the future. There will also be an opportunity to hear directly from a participant in one of the MAPS-sponsored studies about his experience with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and ask questions.

Ron Shore, BA, MPA, PhD Student

Ron spent 23 years working in community health, harm reduction and addiction prior to embarking on his PhD research. He has taught at Queen’s University for 14 years, and oversees the Dēlos Psychedelics Learning Lab. While his research is specific to psilocybin and it’s potential role in treating mood, self-regulatory disorders and end of life anxiety, he is a student of plant medicine and consciousness in general, with a specific interest in shamanism and the cultural anthropology of psychoactive plant use.

The Magic of Mushrooms: Liberation by Connection
This presentation presents for the first time results of a scoping review of published literature on psilocybin-assisted therapy. Results of the review will be contextualized within the broader history of traditional mushroom ceremonies, and issues of culture, appropriation and preservation will be discussed.

Dr. Simon Amar

Dr. Simon Amar is a psychiatrist working in private practice in Montreal, Quebec. He specializes in psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, and personality disorders. Since 2013, he has been following the MAPS research on MDMA, and began training to be a therapist in these studies in 2016. He is currently the Co-Clinical investigator and Co-Therapist at the Montreal Phase 3 site for MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD.

MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy
We will explore how MDMA can catalyse psychotherapy for PTSD. We will discuss how MDMA works, what MDMA psychotherapy looks like and how it brings about change for people suffering from PTSD. We will provide an update on Phase 3 clinical research and look to the future. There will also be an opportunity to hear directly from a participant in one of the MAPS-sponsored studies about his experience with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and ask questions.