MIND at the Psychedelic Science 2017 in Oakland – a milestone in the scientific investigation of psychedelics-assisted forms of therapy

 

A vast surge of visitors and an abundance of exciting presentations and other events were the hallmarks of the Psychedelic Science 2017 (PS17) conference. Organized by MAPS and the Beckley Foundation, it took place in Oakland, California between the 20th and 24th of April 2017.

The organizers found their element of surprise already in the preliminary stage of the event in the fact that more than 3000 guests bought tickets to attend the three-day main conference. As the auditoriums proved insufficient to stand up to the wealth of enthusiasts, many of the presentations by well-known protagonists were also broadcasted in additional rooms.

Yet even the pre- and post-workshops had been fully booked and offered a broad spectrum with subjects ranging from Dave Nichol’s pharmacological elementary class on psychedelic substances to pragmatic tips for off-label depression therapy with ketamine.

The main conference was aligned in a research oriented, an interdisciplinary, and a Plant Medicines – Track. In all of these areas an emphasis was placed on the conception of data-based studies and projects so that Psychedelic Science came to be rightfully honored in its name and would stand out from other conferences such as the Breaking Convention, which also included a pronounced focus on Psychedelic Culture.

And yet, definitely, there was no room for boredom in Oakland as the program not only included an art exhibition on Visionary Art, but also a Comedy Banquet and several very well attended parties. Indeed, given the location, the legal Pot Smoking Area outside the hotel lobby, self-made and quite typical for California, must be mentioned, although the audience turned out to be surprisingly low-key on this toke(n).

MIND was present at the PS17 with 8 members, out of whom Milan Scheidegger also made an appearance as a presenter. His contribution was a highly fascinating report on a study that was conducted at the University of Zurich and which measured the effects of psilocybin on the depth of meditation in learned Zen-Buddhist meditation-experts – a wonderful project that investigated the utility of psychedelic experiences beyond therapeutic categories. The complete presentation can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ9Vp4Hz5IU.

Equipped with our brand new flyers and business cards, we succeeded in winning numerous interesting contacts and gained the attention of cooperation partners and potential members in Europe and beyond.

Of course, apart from the public events, further meetings for projects and networking took place in which MIND-members were present:

The European MDMA for PTSD-Study Group Meeting engaged in planning and strategy development for the multicenter phase-3 approval study for MDMA as a therapy adjunct in dream therapy in Europe that is aspired to commence in 2020. Research groups from both Berlin and Zurich collaborate in this project under the flag of MIND with MAPS as the sponsor for this study. What is new here is the planned implementation of another multicenter open-label pre-study modeled after the completed phase-2 study by MAPS in the USA in order to pave the way for a more comprehensive approval study. Here the focus lies on a co-effort with the work group of Eric Vermetten, who is a renowned trauma therapy researcher from the Netherlands. Moreover, Milan Scheidegger, Henrik Jungaberle, and Andrea Zeuch took part in a Researchers’ Meeting after the conference that was organized by MAPS and during which we were able to invite exciting international speakers for our Psychedelic Science conference by the name of SHIFT in fall 2018. Among these are the legendary Bill Richards and Marcella O’talora who were elemental in the advanced training of therapists for MAPS projects. This resulted in another thrilling option: we are currently in communication with Janis Phelps of the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) about how we may succeed in bringing their implemented and university-certified advanced training program in Psychedelic – assisted Therapies and Research to Europe / Berlin soon, which we will organize in collaboration with MIND and other cooperation partners.

An attempt to cram all the other developments of these eventful days into a blog entry would blow up the capacity of this format. But we will be available for personal discussion with anyone interested, for example at the upcoming MIND-Meetup on May 20th in the Betahaus in Kreuzberg (Registration here: https://podio.com/webforms/18359826/1234551).

 

Blogpost by Dr. med. Andrea Zeuch

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