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Toronto University Health Network Launches Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre

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The Nikean Foundation announces a $5m gift to support the launch of Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre at the University Health Network (UHN)

A $5m donation from the Nikean Foundation launches the Nikean Centre for Psychedelic Psychotherapy, which aims to become an academic and innovation hub.

Nikean was founded in 2019 by Canadian tech entrepreneur Sanjay Singhal. His Foundation has partnered with a number of organisations to date, including Imperial College London, MAPS and Usona Institute.

Singhal is now supporting UHN, which boasts the largest medical psychiatry team in Canada, and calling on fellow philanthropists to join him.

The Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre will focus on three primary endeavours: research, education and training, and clinical care.

According to materials seen by Psilocybin Alpha, the first batch of research projects the Centre will seek to tackle with are:

  • Psilocybin-Assisted Existential, Attachment and Relational (PEARL) Therapy for End-of-Life Distress in Patients with Advanced Cancer; 
  • Psilocybin-Assisted Existential, Attachment and Relational (PEARL) Therapy for Caregivers; 
  • Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder Body Dysmorphic Disorder; 
  • Experiential Training in Therapists Learning Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy; 
  • 5-MeO-DMT for PTSD; and, 
  • Integration Project. 

In terms of education and training, the Centre will look to deliver a certificate in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy that includes didactic and experiential components, as well as apprenticeship.

On the clinical care side, the Centre hopes to begin treating patients as psychedelic medicines become more accessible, including MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in collaboration with MAPS, and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for end-of-life distress and other indications.

The Centre notes that an early priority is to treat underserved populations who are, at present, underrepresented in clinical trials such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, refugees and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Importantly, Nikean supports those organisations conducting research in accordance with an Open Science approach rooted in principles of cooperation and accessibility. This is in contrast to the operating principles of many for-profit actors, especially in drug discovery and development, who tend to focus on confidentiality and defensibility (through various forms of IP, for example).

Beyond providing funding, Nikean plans to act as a bridge between these Open Science organisations.