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Discover the influential women in UK psychedelics 

Psychedelic Health celebrates the women spearheading psychedelics in the UK.



What we know about the effect of psychedelics on women’s health

On International Women’s Day, Psychedelic Health takes a look at just some of the women who are spearheading the psychedelic renaissance in the UK.

Women have been underrepresented throughout science, academia, business and health. When a rare, new industry develops – it has the chance to make sure equity is instilled from its beginnings, leaving behind the historical issues that many sectors struggle to set right.

Much like the cannabis industry, the nascent psychedelic sector has the chance to showcase women at the forefront of psychedelic science.

The UK is home to a number of trailblazing women in psychedelics who have already, and continue to, make their mark on the historical re-emergence of interest in these compounds. 

Here we celebrate just some of the women impacting this exciting area of research and development.

Amanda Feilding

The “Countess of Psychedelics” Amanda Feilding (more formally the Countess of Wemyss and March) has been fundamental to the resurgence of psychedelic science.

Lobbyist and drug reformist, Feilding established her company The Beckley Foundation in 1998, a UK think tank and UN NGO. Through the foundation, Feilding has been a leading proponent of the psychedelic renaissance, coordinating some of the groundbreaking research into compounds such as LSD and psilocybin. 

The organisation, in collaboration with the Imperial Research Programme, published the world’s first images of the human brain on LSD in 2016, and has continued to research psychoactive substances as well as work to improve national drug policy.

Dr Rosalind Watts

Clinical psychologist Dr Rosalind Watts has been well integrated into psychedelic research in the UK. Watts worked for five years at the Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research where she published qualitative research on psilocybin treatment, overseeing a team that administered psilocybin treatments.

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Watts developed the Accept, Connect, Embody (ACE) therapy model for psychedelic treatments. Working at the Synthesis Institute, Watts built out the Accept, Connect, Embody, Restore (ACER) programme. Championing ethical administration of psychedelic therapy, Watts recently founded her own company ACER Psychedelic Integration.

Dr Katrin Anne Schlag

Chartered psychologist Dr Anne Schlag is head of research at the UK’s non-profit drug advisory committee Drug Science.

As well as being a key part of Drug Science’s research and focusing on medical cannabis, Schlag is also a member of the organisation’s Medical Psychedelics Working Group. Holding an honorary fellowship at Imperial College London and King’s College London, Anne researches psychedelics, psychopharmacology and psychology and has co-authored papers exploring the dangers of psychedelics, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and barriers to research to name a few.

Professor Jo Neill

Professor Joanna Neill has been professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Manchester in the Manchester Pharmacy School since 2013. Researching psychopharmacology for 30 years, Neill has authored 70 papers that have appeared in peer-review publications.

In 2019, Neill joined Drug Science where she has since become chair of the Drug Science Medical Psychedelics Working Group, working to innovate the psychedelic space, and looking at how psychedelics can be integrated into healthcare. The group will also be aiming to raise awareness of psychedelics with policymakers and to remove barriers to research.

Dr Grace Blest-Hopley

Dr Grace Blest-Hopley is a psychedelics researcher focusing on the neurochemical and neurofunctional foundations of the compounds, as well as cannabinoids.

A postdoctoral researcher and master of neuroscience at King’s College London, Blest-Hopley is research director at Heroic Hearts which is carrying out a groundbreaking observational study that will be investigating the use of psilocybin for treating brain trauma in veterans. The study will be carried out with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

See also  Paper calls for clarity on definition of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy

Dr Lauren Macdonald

With a background in psychology, psychiatry and integrative medicine, Dr Lauren Macdonald is training in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy after she became interested in humans’ ability to heal from disease after going into remission from cancer in 2016.

Focusing on mindfulness, nutrition, breath work and more, MacDonald is a researcher of psychedelics, a group facilitator and co-founder of Essence Medicine, which provides psycho-spiritual care through programmes, training and retreats.

MacDonald is also a patient advocate for the Drug Science Medical Psychedelics Working Group.

Dr Sara Tai

Dr Sara Tai is a senior lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Manchester as well as a consultant clinical psychologist Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Tai has been a vital part of leading research into psychedelics, designing the therapy for COMPASS Pathway’s psilocybin-assisted therapy programme. 

As well as training numerous psychotherapists in the delivery of psychedelic-assisted therapy, Tai is working with leading psychedelic companies that are aiming to speed up the delivery of psychedelic care to patients that need it in the UK, for which she will be the principal investigator for clinical studies.

Tai also sits on the scientific committee for the Drug Science Medical Psychedelics Working Group.

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Psychedelic therapy programmes launch to address heartbreak, burnout and more



Psychedelic therapy programmes launch to address heartbreak, burnout and more

Mindbloom has launched its new Mastermind Series of psychedelic programmes for overcoming heartbreak, burnout and other unique mental health challenges. 

Led by and developed with leading experts in the field, each programme combines specialised teachings with ketamine therapy.

All programmes will include six ketamine therapy sessions focusing on a specific mental health issue, expert-led audio, video, and written content for preparation, treatment, and integration, practical tools such as meditation, one-on-one coaching and group integration sessions.

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The first programme in the Series is ‘Recovering from Rejection and Failure’, led by Dr Guy Winch who is a leading authority on emotional health, and a best-selling author and TED speaker whose talks have received over 30 million views.

Winch’s programme focuses on healing and preventing emotional injuries that people suffer in their personal, professional and romantic lives.

Mindbloom CEO and Founder Dylan Beynon stated: “More than 100 studies and 20 plus years of clinical use show that ketamine therapy may be the most transformational mental health treatment available today.

“In the face of epidemics of mental illness, addiction, and loneliness, we’re thrilled to offer our clients access to top experts across a range of issues – and to pair their expertise with our best-in-class ketamine therapy honed over hundreds of thousands of treatment sessions.”

“Emotional wounds like rejection and failure can be even more devastating than physical wounds, yet we don’t give them the same time and attention,” added Dr Winch.

“I’m thrilled to combine my techniques for emotional first aid with ketamine therapy, which has been shown to increase neuroplasticity and help build emotional resilience.”

Additional Mastermind programmes will be released in the coming months, including: Getting Unstuck, by Dr Elizabeth Lombardo; Beating Burnout, by Dr Shauna Shapiro; and Coping with Cravings, by Dr Jud Brewer

“Americans are struggling with heartbreak, burnout, and other challenges every day, and they’re looking for new tools to address them,” said Mindbloom’s Medical Director Dr Leonardo Vando.

“I’m grateful to these experts for providing Mindbloom’s clients with the unique practices and insights they’ve cultivated during their distinguished careers, to help them overcome the biggest obstacles in their lives.”

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Mychedelica launches to revolutionise psychedelic medicine



Mychedelica launches to revolutionise psychedelic medicine

A new company specialising in psychedelic medicine – mychedelica – is offering a comprehensive suite of services to support the advancement of this transformative field. 

With a team of experienced medical writers and research support specialists, mychedelica is committed to providing the highest quality services to researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical companies working in the psychedelic medicine space.

Psychedelic medicine is rapidly gaining recognition for its potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the field is still in its early stages of development, and there is a critical need for high-quality medical writing and research support services to facilitate its progress.

CEO of mychedelica, Bilal Bham, commented: “We are thrilled to launch mychedelica and contribute to the advancement of psychedelic medicine.

“Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical companies working in this groundbreaking field.”

mychedelica provides a comprehensive range of services, including:

Medical writing: Experienced medical writers will craft clinical trial protocols, regulatory submissions, and peer-reviewed publications, ensuring that research findings are communicated clearly and effectively.

Funding research support: Experts in grant writing and fundraising strategies will assist researchers in securing funding for their psychedelic medicine studies.

Regulatory consulting: mychedelica’s team of regulatory experts will navigate the complex regulatory landscape surrounding psychedelic medicine, ensuring that clinical trials and products comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

With its commitment to quality and innovation, mychedelica is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of psychedelic medicine. The company’s services will empower researchers to conduct rigorous clinical trials, clinicians to provide effective treatments, and pharmaceutical companies to develop safe and effective psychedelic medicines.

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Short Wave Pharma: innovating eating disorder care with psychedelics



Short Wave Pharma: innovating eating disorder care psychedelics

Psychedelic Health speaks to Short Wave Pharma CEO Rivki Stern about the company’s plans to innovate eating disorder care through psychedelics and its recent acquisition by Psych Capital.

Short Wave Pharma was recently acquired by global investment firm Psych Capital. The companies are on a mission to transform mental health care, focusing on innovative approaches and treatments, including psychedelics, which are increasingly gaining acceptability as clinical research results accumulate.

Short Wave Pharma’s clinical programmes are particularly focused on Anorexia nervosa – a complex mental health condition with one of the highest fatality rates. Despite the condition being associated with high rates of suicide, it is a hugely underserved area of mental health, with no FDA-approved pharmacological drug, and a high rate of chronicity. 

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The company has developed a novel delivery method and drug combination specifically designed to address the requirements of this vulnerable population. Short Wave focuses on methods of delivery that will be effective for Anorexia, which is a metabolic disease as well as a mental health condition. Its unique buccal film delivery method is intended to affect the brain while bypassing the liver and gut degradation through mucoadhesive absorption.

“Our goal is to alleviate, solve, and treat mental health conditions. It’s a dire need in our global society, and it’s constantly on the rise,” commented Stern. “Eating disorders are a very good example of that and we have seen a very alarming growth since COVID. 

“What drew our attention to psychedelics is that they have the potential to address very complex mental health diseases and have been designated by FDA as breakthrough medicine for life-threatening conditions.

“Because there are no current solutions, we must harness very innovative approaches and potential solutions. That’s why we started working with psychedelics which may be difficult because they are not regulated, but we don’t shy away from challenges.”

The company’s drug is based on psilocybin and another API which together utilise an expanded mechanism of action and a therapeutic effect superior to psilocybin alone, impacting more than one group of receptors in the brain. 

The delivery method is sensitive to the patients’ needs – who may not want to swallow or be injected – and is known for its high bioavailability. 

“By mucosal absorption, we are speeding the onset of the medicine and amplifying the impact which will help tackle the patients’ metabolic challenges and improve acceptance,” says Stern. 

The drug product and delivery method are currently in preparation for Phase 1 clinical studies, and in its current preclinical studies, the company is validating its delivery and expanded mechanisms of action. So far, initial safety results are positive, with a further, more in-depth toxicity study taking place. 

Psych Capital – which is a public investment and awareness platform for mental health, and has a portfolio of innovative companies – has supported Short Wave Pharma’s IP-driven approach to eating disorder care through its recent acquisition of the company.

Short Wave and Psych Capital say they are aligned in their missions to innovate mental healthcare and deliver transformative care in areas of high unmet need.

Stern commented: “We all share a passion for innovation and together have decades of experience in evaluating investments as well as scaling up R&D projects and start-ups in life sciences. 

“We have a shared commitment to alleviate the suffering from mental health. Every one of us has experienced the frustration and challenges of dealing with mental health issues.

“Together, we’re going to put this commitment into action, by bringing forth innovative solutions and developments and getting them through the first stages of development, from discovery through to early phases of clinical study. 

“With psychedelics components, this is extra challenging because of their status as scheduled drugs within a still evolving regulatory framework, which adds uncertainty to the drug development process. 

“Short Wave Pharma has operational expertise in early-stage drug development which will bring extra value to the group’s projects as they develop through our funnel and grow into promising candidates for mental healthcare.  

“We want to identify the gems, guide them through clinical development, and create the right network to attract the right partners for further development and commercialisation.”

Short Wave Pharma is planning to enter its treatment into clinical studies in 2024.

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