Organic Chemistry Seminar: Professor David Olson, UC Davis (Host: Justin Du Bois)
About the Seminar
"Psychedelics and Related Plasticity-Promoting Neurotherapeutics"
Neural plasticity—broadly defined as the ability of the brain to change and adapt—is of fundamental importance to a properly functioning nervous system. It is the basis for learning and memory and enables our brains to recover from the pathological changes that underlie neuropsychiatric diseases such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder. Recently, our group discovered that psychedelic natural products and related compounds, such as LSD, DMT, and ibogaine, rapidly promote structural and functional neural plasticity in rodents. These compounds are capable of re-wiring neural circuitry to produce long-lasting antidepressant, anxiolytic, and anti-addictive behavioral responses. Psychedelics have inspired our total synthesis and medicinal chemistry efforts to develop safer and more effective neurotherapeutics, and they serve as key chemical tools in our studies to understand the fundamental biochemical mechanisms that give rise to neural plasticity.
About the Speaker
David studied chemistry and biology at Union College before receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University. After his graduate work, he completed postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. David joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2015, where he established a research program at the interface of chemistry and neuroscience. His research focuses on understanding how small molecules influence neural plasticity, learning, memory, and mood. In 2019, he co-founded Delix Therapeutics—a company developing non-hallucinogenic analogs of psychedelics for treating a variety of brain disorders.