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Psychedelics: A Pharmacologist’s Perspective

  • Wurstküche 625 Lincoln Boulevard Venice, CA 90291 United States (map)

Dr. Kate White


Psychedelic compounds have been used as therapies and spiritual aids for hundreds of years. This talk will focus on why humans are interested in using hallucinogens for therapeutics, spiritual awakening, and recreation. The effects of these drugs are all mediated through cell surface receptors in the brain. Scientists have discovered the specific receptors involved and understand how the drug interactions with these receptors mediate the hallucinogenic effects. Understanding how these compounds alter our consciousness can provide insights into how the human brain works and can help researchers design new drugs that mimic how psychedelic compounds alleviate depression or pain, but without the paranoia and debilitating hallucinations. 

Speaker Bio

Dr. Kate White is a postdoctoral research fellow in Raymond Stevens’ Lab at the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California. Her research has focused on understanding the function of cell surface receptors in human physiology at both the molecular and behavioral level. Her current research goal is to build a 3D atomic model of a pancreatic β-cell with an aim to better understand diabetes. She has focused on receptors involved in mediating caffeine effects, pain relief, taste sensation, platelet aggregation, and hallucinations. Additionally, Dr. White has collaborated with Opportunity Education to design Next Generation Learning approaches for undergraduate and high school students working in laboratories at the Bridge Institute. Dr. White studied pharmacology in Dr. Bryan Roth’s lab at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, which focused on cell surface receptors involved in mediating the hallucinogenic effects of drugs like salvia, LSD, and psilocybin. In her free time, Dr. White enjoys competitive ocean swimming and running on the beach.