David E. Olson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
Department of Chemistry
2463 Chemistry Annex
Lab Website

Research Interests

Our lab studies a class of compounds that we call psychoplastogens, or small molecules capable of promoting neural plasticity. Such compounds have enormous potential for treating a wide variety of neuropsychiatric diseases including depression, anxiety disorders, and addiction. We use a combination of synthetic chemistry, molecular neurobiology, and behavioral neuropharmacology to 1) understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying the effects of psychoplastogens on the nervous system, and 2) develop next generation neurotherapeutics.

Vargas, M. V.; Dunlap, L. E.; Dong, C.; Carter, S. J.; Tombari, R. J.; Jami, S. A.; Cameron, L. P.; Patel, S. D.; Hennessey, J. J.; Saeger, H. N.; McCorvy, J. D.; Gray, J. A.; Tian, L.; Olson, D. E. Psychedelics Promote Neuroplasticity Through Activation of Intracellular 5-HT2A Receptors. Science, 2023, 379, 700–706.

Kwan, A. C.; Olson, D. E.; Preller, K. H.; Rother, B. L. The Neural Basis of Psychedelic Action. Nat. Neurosci., 2022, 25, 1407–1419.

Dong, C.; Ly, C.; Dunlap, L. E.; Vargas, M. V.; Sun, J.; Hwang, I.-W.; Azinfar, A.; Oh, W. C.; Wetsel, W. C.; Olson, D. E.; Tian, L. Psychedelic-Inspired Drug Discovery Using an Engineered Biosensor. Cell, 2021, 184, 2779–2792.

Cameron, L. P.; Tombari, R. J.; Lu, J.; Pell, A. J.; Hurley, Z. Q.; Ehinger, Y.; Vargas, M. V.; McCarroll, M. N.; Taylor, J. C.; Myers-Turnbull, D.; Liu, T.; Yaghoobi, B.; Laskowski, L. J.; Anderson, E. I.; Zhang, G.; Viswanathan, J.; Brown, B. M.; Tjia, M.; Dunlap, L. E.; Rabow, Z. T.; Fiehn, O.; Wulff, H.; McCorvy,  J. D.; Lein, P. J.; Kokel, D.; Ron, D.; Peters, J.; Zuo, Y.; Olson, D. E. A Non-Hallucinogenic Psychedelic Analogue with Therapeutic Potential. Nature, 2021, 589, 474–479.

Dunlap, L. E.; Azinfar, A.; Ly, C.; Cameron, L. P.; Viswanathan, J.; Tombari, R. J.; Myers-Turnbull, D.; Taylor, J. C.; Grodzki, A. C.; Lein, P. J.; Kokel, D.; Olson, D. E. Identification of Psychoplastogenic N,N-Dimethylaminoisotryptamine (isoDMT) Analogs Through Structure-Activity Relationship Studies. J. Med. Chem., 2020, 63, 1142–1155.

Ly, C.; Greb, A. C.; Cameron, L. P.; Wong, J.; Barragan, E.; Wilson, P.; Burbach, K. F.; Dunlap, L. E.; Soltanzadeh Zarandi, S.; Sood, A.; Duim, W. C.; Paddy, M. R.; Dennis, M.; McAllister, A. K.; Ori-McKenney, K. M.; Gray, J. A.; Olson, D. E. Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity. Cell Rep. 2018, 23, 3170–3182.