NEW YORKN.V. to enable research into the potential of psychedelics to address unmet patient needs in the mental health field and to support promising graduate students and other trainees in furthering their professional careers in this emerging field.
Over the course of the five-year program, grantees will have access to MGH’s innovative resources and expertise in neuroimaging technologies, cognitive neuroscience, cellular and molecular neurobiology, and clinical trial design, enabling them to discover, optimize, and implement novel experimental psychedelic neurotherapeutics can track.
The first cohort consists of PhD students whose research projects will primarily focus on mechanistic studies of psychedelics and related therapeutic interventions, including:
- chemical-biological approaches to study endogenous psychedelic compounds such as N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and the enzymatic machinery required for biosynthesis in a range of human and rodent cell types
- the ethnopharmacology of a Central and South American psychedelic plant
- a systems neuroscientific approach to modeling the brain after administration of a psychedelic substance
- Using epidemiological and observational data to explore the potential of psychedelic therapies for the treatment of suicidal tendencies and behaviors
- the effects of psilocybin psychotherapy on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
“This fellowship has given me the flexibility to conduct unprecedented research with an innovative intervention that is not yet well understood,” said graduate student Clare Shaffer upon receiving the atai fellowship.
The grantees, drawn primarily from the doctoral programs of institutions in the greater Boston area, were selected through a competitive selection process based on their proposed research project and their vision of the impact of psychedelic research on mental health. It was also important to the MGH and atai that the selection of grantees had a focus on promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the psychedelic field, which was taken into account in the selection of grantees and the projects accepted.
“We are pleased to welcome the first cohort of the atai Fellowship,” said Florian Brand, CEO and co-founder of atai Life Sciences. “Atai’s core vision is a cure for mental illness, and to that end we are committed to researching novel treatments and nurturing the best next-generation researchers in this transformative field.”
“We are very grateful for atai’s generosity and pioneering contribution in helping us educate budding researchers and advance our fundamental understanding of how psychedelics affect brain plasticity,” said Dr. Stephen J. Haggarty, Director of Neurobiology at the Center of Neuroscience of Psychedelics and Principal Investigator at the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine and Co-Director of the Fellowship Fund. “I have no doubt that our talented and diverse PhD students and investigators, combined with our state-of-the-art research facilities, will help us discover more of the mysteries and therapeutic benefits of these potential drugs.”
About atai Impact
atai Impact was founded by atai Life Sciences in October 2021 to harness the power of innovative approaches in mental health for positive social change. The main pillars of the activity of atai Impact are: advancing education, expanding access, and supporting the broader mental health care ecosystem. atai Impact is initially focusing on the psychedelics sector as it shows great potential for tackling the growing mental health crisis. Behind the introduction of atai Impact stands atai Life Sciences’ belief that harmonization between commercial and non-profit organizations is the best way to address all aspects of the escalating global mental health crisis. For more information, see https://atai.life/atai-impact/.
About atai Life Sciences
atai Life Sciences is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on transforming the treatment of mental illness. Founded in 2018 in response to the significant unmet need and lack of innovation in the mental health treatment space, atai is dedicated to acquiring, advancing and efficiently developing innovative therapeutics to treat depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental disorders. By pooling resources and best practices, atai aims to responsibly accelerate new drug development across all of its companies to achieve clinically meaningful and sustainable behavioral changes in patients with mental illness. atai’s vision is to heal mental illness so everyone, everywhere, can live a more fulfilling life. For more information, see www.atai.life.
About Massachusetts General Hospital
Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is Harvard Medical School’s first and largest teaching hospital. The Mass General Research Institute operates the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with more than $1 billion in annual research and includes more than 9,500 researchers working in more than 30 institutes, centers and departments. In July 2022, MGH was ranked #8 on the US News & World Report list of “America’s Best Hospitals”. The MGH is a founding member of the MGH Brigham Health System.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements, express or implied, contained in this press release (specifically, with respect to the atai Impact program, the Fellowship Fund and other future atai philanthropic endeavors), statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including without limitation the important factors discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in the atai’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and in atai’s Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and subsequent filings with the SEC have been updated from time to time. atai disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this press release, except as required by applicable law
By Stephen Bard
Chief Financial Officer
Senior Director, External Affairs