Mount Sinai’s Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research Announces their Inaugural Postgraduate Research Fellows.
Funding from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation enables training a diverse group of therapists to hone their expertise in treating trauma and PTSD with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy
The Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research at Mount Sinai today announced Lauren Lepow, MD, and Tamar Glatman Zaretsky, PsyD, as their inaugural Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation fellows. This postgraduate fellowship program, the first of its kind to specifically focus on how psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy may assist trauma survivors, including those with PTSD, was made possible as part of a $5M charitable contribution from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.
PTSD is highly prevalent in our society, affecting 10-15 percent of trauma survivors. Among combat veterans, rates are even higher, with estimates ranging from 20-40 percent. Although treatments for PTSD exist, it is a notoriously intractable condition; many patients remain symptomatic even after completing several courses of therapy. A recent phase 3 clinical trial sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS) demonstrated significant benefits from MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant PTSD, showing that it promotes symptom reduction, and in some cases, so much so that patients no longer meet the criteria for PTSD diagnosis.
“Psychedelic-assisted therapy as a potential cure for PTSD is, hands down, one of the most promising mental healthcare advancements of our time,” said Bob Parsons, United States Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and Founder and CEO of PXG. “With millions of people suffering the effects of trauma and post-traumatic stress, advancing the science of psychedelic-assisted therapy is critical.”
Through this new fellowship program, Dr. Lepow will use natural language processing to better understand how the trauma narrative changes in response to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, with MDMA or psilocybin. Dr. Glatman Zaretsky will study psychological and biological predictors of treatment outcomes with psychedelics. Together, Drs. Lepow and Glatman Zaretsky will also be the lead therapists for a Phase 2 psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy trial for PTSD. Their work will contribute to expanded understanding of how these treatments work in trauma survivors.
“Our aim at the Center for Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy and Trauma Research is to generate the knowledge and train the next generation of therapists and scientists that will allow us to safely use psychedelic therapy in the treatment of trauma-related conditions like PTSD,” said Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Director of the Center. “The gift from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation enables us to foster the growth of dedicated scientists and clinical researchers into content specialists in psychedelic therapy. This is critically needed in the field of psychiatry.”
Dr. Lepow is entering her sixth year of the NIH-sponsored Psychiatry Residency Research Track, which is a residency plus PhD program at Mount Sinai. She received her BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University and her MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Her previous experience both in conducting biological research and as a clinician makes her ideally suited for translational work in psychedelic psychotherapy. Dr. Lepow’s neuroscience PhD work at the Mount Sinai Clinical Intelligence Center is in natural language processing and trauma. She has additionally completed several training programs in psychoanalysis. As part of her fellowship program, Dr. Lepow plans to use cutting-edge tools of data science to investigate the intersection of the psychotherapeutic and neurobiological mechanisms of psychedelic psychotherapy.
Tamar Glatman Zaretsky received her PsyD. from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University, and is currently completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the Division of Traumatic Stress Studies at Mount Sinai and the James J Peters VA Medical Center. Her doctoral research explored trauma, resilience, and emotion regulation with a specific focus on the connection between gonadal hormones and PTSD symptom development. She completed her predoctoral internship at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center, conducting individual and group psychotherapy with veterans and gaining specialized training in trauma-focused treatments through her years-long rotation in the PTSD clinic. Dr. Glatman Zaretsky initially learned about psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in this clinic, which inspired her to pursue postdoctoral training that would allow her to engage in research related to such treatments. Dr. Glatman Zaretsky plans to perform and research these therapies in the VA system while performing the critical studies needed to understand biological mechanisms of action.
Mount Sinai Health System researchers are at the forefront of uncovering the biological causes of many psychiatric disorders, including PTSD. In developing its training and supervision program, the Center is working closely with MAPS, which is providing clinical supervision and certification of therapists who complete all aspects of the training.
“Mount Sinai is an outstanding leader and innovator in trauma research and psychedelic-assisted therapy,” said Renee Parsons, President and Executive Creative Director of PXG Apparel. “Offering fellowship opportunities within the Center is an opportune way to attract the best minds to the promising field of psychedelics. I’m delighted that two exceptional women have risen to the top as the inaugural Parsons fellows.”