The Substance: LSD and Society

Film screening of the Swiss documentary about the discovery of LSD, and an update on current research in psychedelic science.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


April 20, 2013 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann makes a surprising discovery in the spring of 1943 and realizes that the molecule he is working with—LSD—could impact society as well as the scientific world.

The Substance,” the award-winning Swiss documentary by Martin Witz, includes one of the last interviews with Hoffmann along with incredible footage of the psychedelic movement in the late 1960s in San Francisco.

Watch a screening of the film at swissnex San Francisco then learn from Franz X. Vollenweider and David E. Nichols, two of the leading experts in the medical application of psychedelic drugs, about modern research in neuropsychopharmacology and how LSD and other psychedelics are used in modern medicine.

This event takes place during the annual Psychedelic Science conference in Oakland, and is supported by the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco.


6:30 pm    doors open
7:00 pm    introduction and documentary film screening
8:30 pm    discussion on current state of psychedelic science
9:00 pm    reception and networking
10:00 pm  doors close


Franz X. Vollenweider

Dr. Franz X. Vollenweider is currently Vice-Director of Research and Teaching and Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Research Unit at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich East, and Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of Zurich. He is also the Director of Heffter Research Centre Zürich for Consciousness Studies (HRC-ZH), which he founded in 1998, as well as President of the Swiss Neuromatrix Foundation for the Study of Consciousness. His current research focuses on the investigation of the functional networks and transmitter dynamics underlying the experience of self, visual perception, cognitive and emotional processes in normal waking and psychedelic states, and on the dysfunctions of these processes in psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Vollenweider has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, and his research is supported by grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Health Office, the Heffter Research Institute, and multiple awards from the NARSAD and the Fetzer Research Institute. He has received the Achievement Award of the Swiss Society of Psychiatry (1990), the Heffter Research Institute Award (1997), the Götz Prize of the University of Zurich (2000), the British Association of Psychopharmacology Prize (2002), and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Prize (1999, 2003, 2010).

David E. Nichols

Until his retirement in June 2012, David E. Nichols, PhD, was the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology, and a Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Purdue University. He also was an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He currently is an Adjunct Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Nichols received his PhD from the University of Iowa in 1973, followed by a postdoctoral stint in Pharmacology. From his time as a graduate student, Nichols focused his research on the relationship between molecular structure and the action of substances that modify behavior. His research took him to Purdue University in 1974, where he remained until his retirement this year.
His research was funded by government agencies for more than three decades. Internationally recognized for his research on centrally active drugs, he is one of the world’s foremost authorities on psychedelic agents, and founded the nonprofit Heffter Research Institute in 1993. He also was a pioneer in the study of the medicinal chemistry of dopamine D1 receptor agonists, and in 1991 he and his colleagues first showed that dopamine D1 agonists had remarkable efficacy in a primate model of Parkinson’s disease. He consults for the pharmaceutical industry and has served on numerous committees and government review groups.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos