Mount Sinai’s Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research Receives $5 Million Grant From The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

Funds will support cutting-edge MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD

The Mount Sinai Health System today announced a $5 million charitable contribution by The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to build and support training and education for therapists using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and other psychedelic medicine approaches. The multiyear grant will support the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A secondary partner to the gift is the Bronx Research Foundation, affiliated with the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.

The grant supports a progressive partnership between research and medical organizations and the VA. The work will focus on helping ensure that following the anticipated approval by the Food and Drug Administration of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, clinicians will be properly trained and certified to make this highly effective treatment available as quickly as possible. Additionally, the gift from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will fund the development of protocols to deliver MDMA in the context of group psychotherapy for veterans with PTSD. It will also establish a postgraduate fellowship program and support the Center’s successful MINDSET lecture series.

“A major bottleneck in the emerging field of psychedelics is in the training and education of therapists in community-based settings such as the VA,” said Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research. “The gift from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation allows us to leverage the knowledge obtained in our clinical trials at the VA and Mount Sinai towards training a diverse group of therapists with expertise in treating PTSD in real-world clinical settings.”

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 for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic PTSD: it not only promotes symptom reduction, but provides a cure.

“Millions of people are trapped in an all-too-silent battle with PTSD, and current treatments are not enough. Personally, I’ve tried a number of different treatments and found psychedelic-assisted therapy to be the most effective. It’s a gamechanger. Now, 50 years after the war, I’ve finally come home,” said Bob Parsons, United States Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and Founder and CEO of PXG. “I want this to be true for all veterans battling PTSD. It’s time to bring them home.”

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 will work closely with MAPS, which will provide clinical supervision and certification of therapists who complete all aspects of the training. 

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Mount Sinai and James J. Peters VA on this strategically important project that will facilitate the adoption of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD within communities that care for our veterans,” said Rick Doblin, PhD, Executive Director of MAPS.

The mission of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research is to perform clinical trials and neuroscience studies of psychedelics as well as to provide ongoing education so that a new generation of providers can use these cutting-edge approaches to help trauma survivors achieve significant symptom reduction and access resilience and post-traumatic growth.

“The VA is committed to excellence in training and education of its clinicians, and the James J. Peters VA has been at the forefront of understanding PTSD and developing and testing evidence-based approaches to the treatment of combat veterans with PTSD,” said Margaret O’Shea Caplan, Director of the James J. Peters VA, a Mount Sinai affiliate.

While the program will prioritize clinicians working with veterans, including practitioners at the Department of Veterans Affairs, those working with civilians will also be eligible.

“PTSD can impact veterans, first responders, victims of domestic violence, and anyone who has endured trauma, as well as their families,” said Renee Parsons, President and Executive Creative Director of PXG Apparel. “By supporting this cutting-edge research, we hope to help ease the pain of those who have already been through so much.”

Under the direction of Dr. Yehuda, the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research is focused on performing the clinical trials necessary to examine the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds such as MDMA and psilocybin. The Center will also conduct comprehensive research on the mechanisms of action of these treatments so that they can be scaled and most effectively delivered to appropriate patients.