David E. Nichols is the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology at Purdue University. He received the first Provost’s Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in 2006, and was named the Irwin H. Page Lecturer in 2004 in recognition of his contributions to serotonin research. Since he began his graduate studies in 1969, Dave has focused on how the structure of a molecule affects its biological activity. He has published a total of more than 280 scientific papers and has been invited to present seminars at numerous national and international meetings.
One of his primary research areas has been the study of hallucinogens (psychedelics). His breadth of knowledge about the chemistry and pharmacology of these substances is probably unrivaled in the world, as reflected in a widely cited comprehensive scientific review of hallucinogens he wrote in 2004. He has studied all of the classes of psychedelics, including a variety of mescaline analogues, tryptamines, and LSD derivatives, and a number of compounds first made in his laboratory are listed in the Shulgin’s first book PIHKAL.
He published the first pharmacological studies of MDMA in 1982, showing that it released neuronal serotonin as a major component of its action, well before the rest of the world became aware of this material, and also coined the name “entactogens” for the class of MDMA-like substances. He is also the founding President of the Heffter Research Institute. Dave is an outstanding teacher, and is able to bring complicated scientific concepts to a level that is understandable to the educated lay person.