First-of-its-kind research centre will bring psychedelic psychotherapy to UHN

Rishika and Sanjay Singhal, founder of the Nikean Foundation, which provided the largest-ever donation in support of psychedelic science and research in Canada. (Photo: The Nikean Foundation)

A transformative $5 million donation from the Nikean Foundation is supporting the launch of the Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre within the Centre for Mental Health at UHN. 

With this incredibly generous gift, UHN will become a leader in the emerging field of psychedelic psychotherapy.

The Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre will be the first research centre of its kind in Canada. The Centre plans to harness the potential of psychedelic medicine to provide transformative care to patients, pioneer training in psychedelic psychotherapy and conduct high-quality research that advances the field. The Centre has assembled an expert faculty to lead this work.

There is growing evidence that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is safe and effective for a variety of mental illnesses. 

In 2020, the Government of Canada began granting access to psilocybin, a hallucinogenic chemical in certain mushrooms, for people facing end-of-life distress. It has also indicated it may open access to psilocybin and MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy, E or molly, for select patients through its special access program.

As these medicines become increasingly available, clinicians at the Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre will begin treating patients with them.

“The Centre for Mental Health at UHN is a leader in treating complex patients with comorbid mental and physical illnesses,” says Dr. Susan Abbey, inaugural Director of the Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at UHN. 

“Adding psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will provide new hope for patients who have struggled to find relief elsewhere for their end-of-life distress, treatment-resistant depression or other mental health challenges.”

The Centre will also be home to an innovative psychedelic psychotherapy training program that will increase expertise in this field across Canada. 

Researchers at the Nikean Centre will also begin to study the role of experiential training in psychedelic medicine, providing trainees with the opportunity to participate in their own experience of psychedelic psychotherapy. The training program will help bring this game-changing treatment to more patients in need.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Nikean Foundation to create an academic and innovation hub that will bring researchers together from across the country to explore this new frontier in mental health treatment,” says Dr. Emma Hapke, co-founder and Associate Director of the Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre, and a psychiatrist at UHN.

Work at the Centre is already underway.

The Nikean Foundation is a Toronto-based charitable foundation committed to the promotion of research and education in support of the beneficial use of psychedelic medicines. This gift will support the future of psychedelic psychotherapy and make this emerging treatment accessible to more Canadians in need.

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