I have always been interested in studying psychedelic therapeutics ever since I got into science and learned about the past and current research into their efficacy in treating various forms of mental illness, such as PTSD, end-of-life anxiety, and treatment-resistant depression. However, due to persisting stigma and prohibitive laws around their regulation and research, I was unable to find my foot in the door as a young scientist. With the incredible help of Fulbright Austria, the Medical University of Innsbruck (host institution), and the Colorado School of Mines (home institution), my dream has become a reality: I am helping to structurally and mechanistically characterize the proteins in magic mushrooms that biosynthesize psilocybin! By characterizing these proteins, the future production of psilocybin and its derivatives can be optimized for cost effectiveness and sustainability in connection with increasing market demand as policy surrounding the use of psilocybin changes around the world. My interdisciplinary work on this project includes aspects of microbiology, biochemistry, X-ray crystallography, and structural biology. By learning these crucial laboratory skills and participating in the dynamic field of psychedelic research at a young age, my goal of creating a world with accessible alternative therapies for these debilitating diseases is within tangible reach.
By Jesse Hudspeth
Jesse at the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs