Florian Brand & Christian Angermayer
A Higher Calling

Imagine a future where your local therapist is able to administer a small dose of a psychedelic compound to you in a controlled setting. Whatever mental health affliction you're experiencing, be it addiction, anxiety or depression, your ability to gain fast, effective respite for many could be life-transformative.

This is the future that atai is betting on, a German-based psychedelic inspired pharmaceutical company hedging their bets on a slew of drugs in current development. Co-founded by the entrepreneurial trendsetter Christian Angermayer and Florian Brand, they stand on the shoulders of giants, partly assisted by the decades of research by mavericks in white coats such as Rolland Griffiths, David Nutt and Rick Doblin. They aim to revolutionise the mental health landscape for hundreds of millions of sufferers worldwide.

Having just IPO’d in what is becoming a crowded marketplace for psychedelic inspired life science companies, they are betting on psychedelic inspired compounds like ibogaine, DMT and ketamine to reinvigorate and empower large sections of society where SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) have only done half the job. And they mean business; they count luminaries like Sam Harris, investor giant Peter Thiel and artists Diplo & One Direction’s Liam Payne as backers for this juggernaut.

However, the challenge for atai remains twofold, one, to dispense of the century-long stigmas and myths that have clung to psychedelics and mental health but also to sell this into a weary public. In this discussion, Florian and Christian talk me through their future roadmap, why psychedelics changed their lives, and when can we expect these medicinal compounds to appear over the counter?

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Further reading:

atai Life Sciences
Michael Pollan Interview
David Nutt interview
LSD and our brain with David Nutt (event)

What We’re Getting Wrong about Mental Health and Climate Change
How These Two Men Introduced LSD to the World