As co-founders of COMPASS Pathways, a London-based mental health care company developing a psychedelic therapy for people who suffer with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), Ekaterina Malievskaia, MD, and George Goldsmith are on a mission to accelerate patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health. They want to transform the patient experience in mental health care. Here, they share why they support the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Many patients living with severe mental illness don’t have any effective therapeutic options. We learned this through difficult personal experience.
More than 100 million people worldwide live with depression that isn’t helped by available treatments. Other conditions like anorexia or body dysmorphic disorder, don’t have any approved treatments as a standard of care. Patients can encounter significant personal, professional and financial loss over decades of their illness. And there is an impact on families, friends, loved ones, caregivers, colleagues and wider society. A radically new approach to mental health care is desperately needed.
One of the most promising approaches today is research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, such as psilocybin. Research has shown that psilocybin therapy, when administered in a clinical setting by specially trained therapists, can help patients develop a more positive personal narrative and generate new insights that can transform unhelpful patterns of behavior. In the clinical trial we completed at COMPASS last year, we demonstrated a rapid and sustained response for patients who received a single high dose of our compound, COMP360 psilocybin, coupled with psychological support.
When we first became interested in psychedelic therapies and before we set up our own company, we began by supporting organizations like MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), Heffter Research Institute and Imperial College London. Most recently we have been focusing our efforts on building capacity and supporting exceptional scientists in this space. Massachusetts General Hospital, as a leading hospital of Harvard Medical School, combines world-class clinical and scientific expertise with unparalleled imaging capabilities at its Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
We felt a particular connection with Sharmin Ghaznavi, MD, PhD, the associate director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics. Not only does Dr. Ghaznavi have impeccable academic credentials and accomplishments, but she is also a thoughtful clinician who has patients’ experience and their best interests at heart. You can see that she is motivated to make a difference in patients’ lives and that is a plan we can get behind.
Researchers spend a lot of their time fundraising, seeking money for the next project just as they’ve begun the one before. We hope our gift will help to remove some of these fundraising challenges; we want to give Dr. Ghaznavi and her team more time to advance their research. Investing in the people who can make a difference — and whose ideas help inspire others — will in turn make an impact on the entire mental health ecosystem.
– Ekaterina Malievskaia, MD, and George Goldsmith