The Heffter Research Institute

The Heffter Research Institute: A Prospectus

Introduction

The present historical epoch, the closing decade of the second millennium A.D., marks a pivotal milestone in human development. Recent events in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere have provided a sigh of relief, and now offer mankind an opportunity to focus increased attention and energy to the finding of solutions for global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer, the decimation of the rainforests, and the myriad of other environmental and societal imbalances that threaten, not only our own continued existence, but that of the entire biosphere.

There are undoubtedly many solutions if we can muster the resources and creativity needed to discover them. More people have more access to more information today than ever before in history. There are more scientists, physicians, and engineers (or artists, poets, philosophers, and writers--take your pick) than have ever before lived in the history of man. There are also more incipient technologies on the horizon today with the potential to transform our world than ever before. We hear of them on a daily basis--biotechnology, nanotechnology, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality.

Only one thing is certain, however, and it is this: the tool that humanity will use to discover the solutions will be the same one that has brought us this far along: the human mind. It is the probing, questioning, curious, thinking, feeling, dreaming human mind that has gotten us where we are today and it is the mind that will move us beyond the present and into whatever future lies ahead for our species. It is the mind that is responsible for all the technologies that we know or will ever dream about, that has produced all the world's art, literature, religion, politics, magic, and more... the whole gamut of thinking, feeling, and reasoning, of human experience and history.

Given the central and paramount importance of the human mind to the past, present, and future existence of our species, it is curious how little we know about it. We know that its functions are intimately connected, in some way, to that three pound organ, the brain. And, although there have been enormous advances within this century in the various disciplines collectively known as the neurosciences, we still know very little about the relationship between the brain and the mind. We can say we know very much about the anatomy, biochemistry, metabolism, neural organization, electrical activity, and certain other physical and functional aspects of the brain. Yet, we can say almost nothing about how these brain functions work in concert to bring us the existence of mind.

The mind, however generated, is the source of all discovery and invention. Since it offers the only source of solutions to the problems that face us today, and will face us in the future, it follows that efforts to understand the mind--to figure out what it is, how it works, what it can do, and the nature of its relationship to the brain--should be given the highest priority.

Mission

Curiously, among the various tools available to man for furthering the understanding of the mind, some of the most promising are also some of the most ancient. They also happen to be some of the most neglected, and some of the most feared. These tools belong to a class of substances known popularly as psychedelic drugs--which literally means "mind manifesting." Psychedelic drugs (also known as hallucinogens or psychotomimetics) in the form of plants, have provided an avenue for the investigation of the human mind since at least the late Paleolithic epoch. Indeed, many cultures have incorporated the use of psychedelic plants into their religion, magic, and medicine. The Mayans and Aztecs are examples of advanced civilizations in which the ritual use of psychedelic drugs was well developed. The Soma of ancient India, and the special potion drunk prior to the secret religious ceremony practiced at the village of Eleusis in ancient Greece testify to the use of these substances in more ancient cultures.

Today, psychedelic plants play an important role in the shamanism and ethnomedicine of many traditional non-Western societies. Others, however, including modern Judeo- Christian cultures, have rejected the use of psychedelic drugs or plants and have outlawed their use and attempted to eradicate the plants or substances themselves. This, indeed, has been the policy followed in our own society. Opponents of psychedelic drugs are fervent in exaggerating the dangers, claiming that even a single exposure can turn decent, hard-working folks into brain-damaged drug addicts. Neither have the advocates of psychedelic drugs distinguished themselves by demonstrating an excess of either reason or common sense. They have often exaggerated the virtues of the drugs, insisting that psychedelics are the answer to everything from world peace to a cure for the common cold. Neither position is accurate, and neither contributes to a productive dialog.

While psychedelics may pose a danger for individuals with a predisposition toward mental instability, they are among the physiologically safest pharmacological tools available for investigating the relationship between consciousness and the brain. In the proper hands, and under the right conditions, psychedelics are invaluable research tools for exploring the infrastructures of the mind. Indeed, it is our thesis that these drugs represent a "new" technology for this work. Most other classes of psychoactive drugs that have found medical applications (and which also possess potential for abuse) such as narcotic- analgesics, sedatives, anxiolytics, stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, exert their effects via mechanisms and neural pathways that are relatively well understood. Moreover, most of these agents do not directly affect what are usually considered to be the "higher" brain functions, although they may do so indirectly. In contrast, the psychedelic agents exert their most profound influence on the very functions that we consider uniquely human: our cognitive and symbolic capacities; our emotional, intuitive, and aesthetic sensibilities; our interpretative, linguistic, and imaginative abilities; and our capacity for religious experience. In short, psychedelic drugs work most directly on the kinds of brain functions that weave together the fabric of what we experience as mind.

Although they have been investigated for more than 30 years, it is only within the last ten years that we have begun to understand the nature of the effects of psychedelics on the brain. Perhaps not coincidentally, the brain/mind functions most influenced by psychedelics (such as creativity, religious experience, or transient 'psychotic' reactions) are those that leave most neuroscientists uncomfortable, precisely because they are not easily amenable to the kinds of reductionist investigations that are accepted within that community as scientifically valid. Perhaps this is one reason why, in the two volumes of abstracts, each the size of a telephone directory, published for the 1992 convention of the Society for Neuroscience, the word "hallucinogen" occurred in the index only twice; two references out of more than ten thousand reports. This is a peculiar and troubling reflection of current neuroscience research.

How can such a potentially fruitful area of research be virtually ignored by almost the entire neuroscience community? Clearly, when the class of psychopharmacological agents that is least understood and most germane to the investigation of the brain/mind relationship can be reduced to such an extent in the pre-eminent scientific society dedicated to the study of the brain, and in the "Decade of the Brain", something is amiss. Something of great, perhaps even critical, importance to the efforts of science to understand the neural substrates of mind is being overlooked. Clearly, it is time to have a second look, and perhaps to approach the problem from a new direction.

The Heffter Research Institute* was conceived as one possible approach to this problem. It is based on the belief that the multidisciplinary, legitimate, and scientifically sound investigation of psychedelic agents holds great potential for producing genuine breakthroughs in the understanding of the human mind. We are also sophisticated enough to recognize that the current political and intellectual climate makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pursue research in certain directions within conventional frameworks, i.e., that of academic research supported by government funding. To be sure, the government will provide support to legitimate researchers of psychedelic agents, as the founders of the institute can testify from a long period of research funding. However, when it comes to extending the investigations from animal models to human subjects, or to testing hypotheses that the effects of psychedelics may in certain circumstances be beneficial, rather than entirely detrimental, the government's role as a supporter of legitimate research is then compromised by political and ideological concerns.

For these reasons, in order for truly uncompromised and creative research in the field of psychedelic neuropsychopharmacology to have any hope of fulfilling its promise, it must be pursued from within the context of an independent research Institute, whose operations and on-going research programs are not dependent on government funding. Such an Institute will operate entirely legitimately and in compliance with all Federal and State regulations. The research conducted under its auspices will be of the highest quality possible, will be carried out under the direction of world-class scientists, and will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Although the Institute's research programs should qualify for and receive government funding, it will not depend on such funds to maintain its operations, and hence will not be under any obligation to support or defend any politically motivated moral or political agenda with respect to psychedelic drugs.

By the same token, it will neither promote the unsupervised use of psychedelic drugs nor serve the equally biased agendas of self-proclaimed gurus. It will neither condemn psychedelic drugs nor advocate their uncontrolled use. Its sole position in this regard will be that psychedelic agents, utilized in thoughtfully designed and carefully conducted scientific experiments, can be used to further the understanding of the mind. We may clearly contrast this position to that of other institutes and foundations that have been established whose ends are primarily to catalog psychedelic literature, raise funds for newsletters, support various "counterculture" causes, and the like. The Institute will clearly and uncompromisingly have a scientific orientation, and will house thoroughly trained scientists who will bring to bear modern scientific tools and methods to the question of the nature of the mind/brain relationship. This will not be a short-lived enterprise, but, if fundraising is successful it will be an enduring Institution in the service of society.

To that end, the Institute will provide facilities, support, and opportunities to conduct research on psychedelic drugs with humans. In addition, appropriate animal models and biochemical studies will be used to investigate the mechanisms whereby psychedelic agents bring about changes in brain functioning. Although agents potentially useful in the treatment of various psychological dysfunctions may result from some of the research conducted by the Institute, the development of new psychoactive agents specifically for psychiatric medicine is not an essential mission of this Institute. If the research conducted in pursuit of an understanding of the mind should lead to new therapies, then that research will be encouraged and supported, but discovering such therapeutic agents is not the primary objective of this Institute.

The Founders

David E. Nichols, Ph.D.

Founder and Director of Preclinical Research.

Dr. Nichols originally conceived of a privately funded Institute as the most effective mechanism for bringing research on psychedelic agents into the modern era of neuroscience. He currently holds the position of Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, and a joint appointment as Professor of Pharmacology, in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences at Purdue University. The focus of his graduate training, beginning in 1969, and of much of his research subsequent to receiving his doctorate in 1973 has been the investigation of the relationship between molecular structure and the action of psychedelic agents and other substances which modify behavioral states. His research has been funded by government agencies for more than a decade. He consults for the pharmaceutical industry and has served on numerous committees and government research review groups. Widely published in the scientific literature and internationally recognized for his research on centrally-active drugs, he has studied all of the major classes of psychedelic agents, including LSD and other lysergic acid derivatives, psilocybin and the tryptamines, and phenethylamines related to mescaline. He will continue this research at the Institute, would set the overall tone for preclinical and animal studies, and will focus on mechanisms of drug action and drug-receptor interactions. His high standards and more than two decades of research experience will ensure that rigorous methods and quality science are pursued at the Institute.

Rick J. Strassman, M.D.

Co-founder and Director of Clinical Research.

Dr. Strassman is presently Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. His research career began with a systematic investigation of the physiological role of the pineal gland in humans. Dr. Strassman is the first clinical investigator in nearly two decades to successfully obtain an Investigational New Drug application, Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration approval, and funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to carry out human studies at effective dosages with the potent psychedelic agent N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). That clinical study is now completed, having produced a wealth of subjective case reports, as well as biochemical and physiological data. Dr. Strassman is now pursuing follow-up studies assessing more carefully relevant pharmacological mediators of DMT's effects, and will begin comparable studies with psilocybin in the near future with funding by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Strassman's clinical experience, and the knowledge acquired in successfully gaining approval to carry out experiments with psychedelics in humans, ensure that the Institute will be able to perform key clinical studies of these substances.

Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D.

Co-founder and Director of Ethnopharmacology.

Dr. McKenna is presently a Pharmacognosist at the Aveda Corporation, in Minneapolis, MN. Prior to that he was the director of Ethnopharmacology at Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a West Coast company committed to the discovery of new therapeutic drugs from plants used in ethnomedicine. The investigation of the ethnopharmacology, chemistry, and pharmacology of psychedelic and other types of CNS-active plants used in the folk medicine and religious rituals of other cultures will be within the scope of the Heffter Research Institute. Dr. McKenna is well-qualified to oversee this aspect of operations. His Ph.D. work, at the University of British Columbia, completed in 1984, was an interdisciplinary ethnographic, chemical, and pharmacological investigation of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two plant-derived hallucinogens used among indigenous peoples in South America. He subsequently completed fellowships at the National Institute of Mental Health and in the Department of Neurology at Stanford University. He has traveled in South America and gathered plant specimens from native populations. Dr. McKenna has previously collaborated with the other co-founders, and has published important studies on the anatomic location of brain receptors for psychedelics.

Mark A. Geyer, Ph.D.

Director of Behavioral Pharmacology.

Dr. Geyer is a preclinical psychopharmacologist at the University of California, San Diego, where he currently holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine. He is also on the faculty of the Ph.D. Group in Neurosciences and the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program. Since receiving his doctorate in Psychology in 1972, he has focused on basic research addressing the behavioral and neurobiological effects of drugs acting via monoaminergic neurotransmitters. For over a decade, he has had continuous funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the behavioral effects of hallucinogens in animals. He has published extensively on the mechanisms subserving the effects of psychostimulants, hallucinogens, and entactogens. Drs. Geyer and Nichols have been collaborating for many years on studies of these agents and have already established an excellent working relationship and have coauthored several scientific papers. Dr. Geyer's broad experience as a researcher, grant reviewer, journal editor, and teacher will prove invaluable to the Institute as he provides the leadership to develop a strong program in the behavioral pharmacology of psychedelic agents.

Charles S. Grob, M.D.

Senior Clinical Research Associate

Dr. Grob is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He has a long-standing interest in the history of psychiatric research with hallucinogens and has published in the psychiatric literature and has given talks at professional meetings in this area. Dr. Grob recently received the first FDA approval to carry out human research with 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Dr. Grob is also collaborating on a project with Dr. Dennis McKenna to study the biochemical, physiological, and psychological parameters of long-term ayahuasca use in Brazil. In collaboration with Dr. Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Dr. Grob has examined tribal use of hallucinogens as sacraments in adolescent ritual initiation rites, and has contrasted this sanctioned use with contemporary patterns of adolescent drug abuse. Drs. Grob and Strassman will work closely together in establishing a clinical research program at the Institute.

Philip E. Wolfson, M.D.

Senior Clinical Research Associate

Dr. Wolfson is a psychiatrist in the San Francisco bay area. He received his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine in 1968. For the past twenty-two years he has practiced psychotherapy and psychiatry, and has extensive training in group, network, and family systems, utilizing a broad range of approaches to the individual. He is on the clinical faculty of the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and has taught in the graduate psychology departments of John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, and the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Dr. Wolfson has served as a facilitator to various creative social configurations, and was the director of an alternative, inpatient, process-directed psychiatric hospital in the public sector. Throughout his career he has focused on values--old and new--and on psychological trauma and abuse as core issues in human development. The tragic loss of his eldest son to leukemia in 1988 strengthened his resolve in the search for meaning in life and death. He has been an advocate for the therapeutic use of psychedelics and has written on the use of MDMA in psychotherapy. Dr. Wolfson brings to the Institute the essential perspective of a community- and family-oriented mental health practitioner, complementing the more academic research-oriented outlooks of the other founders.

Needs

How much will it cost to establish the Heffter Institute and fund its operations? This question has several answers, depending on factors such as the number of investigators working within the Institute, the amount of government or extra-mural support obtained by Institute investigators, the costs of facilities and equipment, etc. Ideally, the Institute requires an endowment of between $10 and $15 million before all of the founding members can relocate their research programs to an Institute facility. This endowment would be placed in secure investments and only the interest and return on investment would serve as the operating budget of the Institute. An endowment of this magnitude, though modest compared to those bestowed on other biomedical research institutions, would enable the Institute to cover the costs of facilities, equipment, and personnel indefinitely without having to seek additional funding from governmental or other sources. This level of support would confer the critical element of political and financial independence on the Institute; the successful and long-term pursuit of its research would no longer be subject to the vicissitudes of official policies or popular consensus. An endowment of this size would also have another important consequence: it would enable the Institute scientists to devote 100% of their time and effort to research, rather than to fund-raising to ensure the very existence of the Institute.

It should also be clear from the preceding discussions that this Institute is not an investment opportunity; it is solely a philanthropic research enterprise. Thus, while an endowment is a goal to work for, it may be unrealistic to expect the Institute to receive a substantial endowment until it has been in operation for a period of time sufficient to establish credibility and to achieve recognition for research performed under its auspices. It is likely that there will be a transitional period during which sufficient funding must come from a variety of sources, including government institutes, grants from private foundations, and smaller endowments or gifts from individuals. Since the founding Directors all have established records of research accomplishments, they have excellent prospects of being able to obtain extra-mural funding. However, in this era of tight research budgets, grant funding in this controversial area is unreliable. Therefore, it is preferable to have an endowment of sufficient size to support day-to-day operations, using these additional funding sources for program expansion.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Areas of Focus

The preceding Institute Prospectus summarizes the two broad areas of expertise developed in founding the Institute. The first is the area of basic sciences, which includes the preclinical studies to be directed by Drs. Geyer and Nichols. While we know little about how psychedelic drugs cause their characteristic and profound changes in consciousness, the fact is they are chemical entities that interact with discrete neuroreceptor sites in the brain to produce specific but as yet incompletely characterized biochemical changes. A sound basis for any study of effects of psychedelic agents and the mind/brain question must include neuropharmacology.

The second area emphasized at the Institute is clinical science. As such, the Institute includes the first two psychiatrists, Drs. Grob and Strassman, to have received FDA approval to carry out clinical studies with psychedelics, and the entactogen MDMA. These clinical researchers are familiar not only with contemporary psychiatry, but also with various theories of mind that arose as a consequence of the research with psychedelics carried out in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, while clinical research will follow sound and established state-of-the-art approaches, the Institute clinicians are fully aware of alternate paradigms that have been invoked to explain some of the changes in consciousness produced by the psychedelics.

Finally, as a link between the preclinical and clinical sciences, and as a way to "connect" ancient traditions to modern methods, Dr. McKenna brings unique expertise in ethnopharmacology to the Institute. Linking the past to the present in this way will help to preserve the knowledge gained through centuries of traditional use, and may aid in envisioning contemporary applications for these substances.

What is the view of this interdisciplinary nucleus of scientists, as to how best to achieve our stated objectives? We believe the development of the Institute must occur in phases, which will coincide with achieving certain funding goals, discussed below.

Phase I. This is the start-up phase. It began early in 1993 with the filing of the legal paperwork to start the Institute. Key scientists have been identified to participate in the start-up; a general plan has been developed. Limited fund-raising efforts were begun to obtain sufficient capital to establish a minimal office, defray initial legal costs, etc. The Institute will be heavily dependent on volunteer labor during this phase.

Phase II. This is the beginning of the major fund-raising effort. During this period, potential friends of the Institute will be identified, and extensive mailings of the Institute prospectus will take place. The goal of this phase is to raise $1 million. We believe that when the endowment reaches this size, the Institute will have achieved a "critical mass." That is, major philanthropic individuals and foundations will begin to take a serious look at our plan and objectives; at this point it will be clear that the Institute intends to distinguish itself from the myriad of other foundations and institutes that have related purposes. The interest income will be used to establish a permanent office as a focus for fundraising efforts. A professional fundraiser will probably be hired at this point. An investment firm will be retained to manage the endowment. We will identify a geographical location, in proximity to a medical school, as a site for the actual physical facility and will begin to outline the space and resource needs of the Institute.

Phase III. This will begin when approximately $3-4 million will have been raised. We believe there are a sufficient number of philanthropists to achieve this goal within 3-4 years, once they become convinced that the Institute has become a self-sustaining reality. The interest income from this size endowment will be sufficient to acquire land and to begin the construction (or purchase and remodeling) of a physical facility. While full-time fundraising continues, the Institute will add a part-time staff person to begin to develop a research and clinical resources library. When the physical facility is completed, there should be sufficient interest income for at least two of the clinical scientists to relocate to the Institute. During this phase there will probably not be sufficient income for the preclinical staff to leave their home institutions, although we anticipate that small grants will be available to fund pilot research projects that are of relevance to the Institute. This latter issue is discussed below.

Phase IV. When the endowment reaches $10-15 million, depending on the potential for obtaining a significant return on investment at that time, the preclinical scientists will begin to transfer their research programs and relocate to the Institute. Other scientific and support staff will also be hired. By this time we believe that research at the Institute and "name recognition" will greatly facilitate fundraising efforts, so that the endowment will grow steadily and allow continual expansion of Institute programs.

Also, at this time, we anticipate that the Institute will have achieved significant peer recognition to develop a collaborative residency program with the adjacent medical school. This program would allow the appropriate training and transfer of psychiatric technology to the medical community at large, particularly with respect to the treatment of terminal patients using psychedelics.

Rationale

The major cost of the proposed clinical research is personnel salary: psychiatry researchers and psychiatric nurses. Clinical research will utilize drug-experienced volunteers and terminal-diagnosis patients, both in an outpatient setting. The major costs will be comparable to the construction and maintenance of office-type facilities. Initially, clinical treatment rooms will not require extensive biomedical instrumentation. Psychological testing, EEG machines, videotaping equipment, etc, are relatively inexpensive. We plan extensive collaboration with medical schools and other research institutions as a way to implement certain types of research without the need to acquire quite costly "high-end" instrumentation.

Institute scientists have already established FDA drug master files for MDMA and DMT, and in 1993 will establish a file for psilocybin. These represent FDA-approved methods for synthesis and standards of purity for drugs to be administered to humans. This approach ensures that supplies of pure substances for research will be available in-house, and eliminates the need for quite costly external sources that may at various times be subject to restricted availability. Thus, the initial focus is on clinical research because it is relatively more affordable. Published research in this area will immediately begin to establish the reputation of the Institute.

Along with the construction of clinical and office facilities, the Institute will develop an extensive library collection on topics related to the mind/brain question. We anticipate that the Institute would become a resource for clinical researchers. The Institute would also have modest meeting facilities and would sponsor conferences dealing with research results and other relevant topics of interest.

The issue of when to put into place the preclinical research presents a few more problems. First of all, biomedical research is quite expensive. Drs. Geyer and Nichols already collectively receive Government agency funding of over $1 million per year. While much of this funding could ultimately be transferred to the Institute if properly equipped laboratories were in place, physical facilities to carry out this type of work are costly to equip and maintain. Problems of hazardous waste disposal, storage of hazardous chemicals (both necessary for in-house preparation of psychoactive substances), or facilities for providing for humane animal care needs could easily consume Institute revenues in the early phases of development.

However, it may be possible to begin limited preclinical research prior to actual relocation of these programs to fully equipped Institute laboratories. In late Phase II or in Phase III, it should be possible for the Institute to lease temporary laboratory space at a nearby University. Furthermore, it is usually possible to contract for certain kinds of services. To provide one illustration, nmr spectroscopic services can usually be contracted on a "per spectrum" basis from chemistry departments. The Institute will need such spectroscopic services if we prepare any type of drug substance to be used in the clinic. However, modern nmr spectrometers can cost $300,000 and up. Usually one is wise to also purchase a maintenance agreement. Then, one needs an nmr specialist in-house to keep the instrument running properly on a daily basis. It can be easily seen that it is much more efficient to contract out this service than to have in-house capability. In actually planning the physical facility, we will need to make an assessment of which kinds of things we can do in-house, and which kinds of things are best contracted out or leased.

In addition to the availability of instrumentation that would otherwise be simply too expensive to purchase and maintain on-site, locating the Institute adjacent to a University with a medical school will allow the Institute scientists to obtain adjunct professorships and to establish collaborative studies with university scholars and scientists. Furthermore, many academicians welcome small grants and contracts to perform specific kinds of services or research in a field where they have expertise. We would extensively utilize this resource, until such time as the Institute had sufficient income to maintain similar research in-house. Ultimately, we would hope to be able to carry out most of our programs on-site, with our own scientists and funding. However, this goal could take a long time to realize. For example, a large and well-known research institute in California, reported that in 1992 it had an operating budget of approximately $100 million and a staff of 650!

However, even though this initial development plan is directed toward raising a substantial endowment to ensure future vitality of the Institute, there will likely occur circumstances during the early phases where a qualified investigator is lacking sufficient funds to complete a study, or is lacking funds to initiate a pilot study. In such situations it is the intent of the directors to consider carefully requests for such funds, and, if the project is deemed meritorious and consistent with the objectives of the Institute, and if other sources of funds are unavailable, the Institute may provide funding for the project by unanimous approval of the Institute directors.

Summary

At the present time, The Heffter Research Institute is no more than an idea. It has no facilities, no personnel, no equipment, no affiliations, and no research funds to put into a budget if there were one. What it does have is the support of dedicated scientists who believe that psychedelics hold the key to many frontiers of the mind, and who are committed to sparing no effort to make the concept behind the Heffter Research Institute come to life. We are confident that, once the Institute is a reality, it will grow and develop to the point where it will be the single most important place in the world for the pursuit of knowledge on the biological nature of the mind and consciousness. With a proper endowment and solid financial management, the Institute should serve humankind in perpetuity.

We are truly at square one. It has been said that there is no force in the universe more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Let us believe together that now is the time.

Direct further inquiries to:

David E. Nichols, Ph.D.

The Heffter Research Institute

4740 N. 225 W.

West Lafayette, IN 47906-9702


*Dr. Arthur Heffter (1860-1925) was a German pharmacologist with thorough training in chemistry. His study of the metabolism of sulfur compounds led to an interest in pharmacology which prompted him to study medicine. Following the completion of his medical studies in 1892, he worked for a time under the most prominent pharmacologist of his time, Oswald Schmiedeberg. He occupied the chair in pharmacology at the University of Berlin from 1908 until his death. Arthur Heffter was an expert in toxicology and forensic medicine. Unfortunately, his seminal contribution to research on psychedelics is not well recognized. He was the first to isolate chemically pure alkaloids from the peyote cactus, which he then studied both in animal assays and in self experiments. Through these efforts he discovered that mescaline was the principal psychoactive component in peyote. He thus was the first scientist to study the chemistry and psychopharmacology of a naturally occurring psychedelic substance in a systematic way.