Scientific Advisory Board

Prof David Nutt DM FRCP FRCPSYCH FSB FMEDSCI

Chair of Scientific Advisory Board

Professor David Nutt is the Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College London. He is also the President of the European Brain Council, and the former President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Professor Nutt is a British neuropsychopharmacologist specialising in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety, and sleep. He was until 2009 a professor at the University of Bristol heading their Psychopharmacology Unit. Since then he has been the Edmond J Safra chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences there. Nutt was a member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, and was President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. His book Drugs Without the Hot Air (UIT press) won the Transmission Prize for Communicating Science in 2014.

Prof Sir Alasdair Breckenridge CBE FRSE

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Alasdair Breckenridge was Chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which was formed in April 2003 by the merger of the Medicines Control Agency and the Medical Devices Agency.  Previously he was Chairman of the Committee on Safety of Medicines and Professor of Clinical Pharmacology in the University of Liverpool. He is now Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Centre of Regulatory Excellence of Duke/NUS in Singapore. He was knighted in 2004. 

During his tenure at MHRA, Sir Alasdair served as the first Chair of the Department of Health’s Emerging Science and Bioethics Advisory Committee (ESBAC), an organisation responsible for providing advice to UK health departments on emerging healthcare scientific developments and their ethical, legal, social and economic implications. He was a member of the Medical Research Council and he worked closely on several programmes of the European Union, the World Health Organisation and the International Union of Pharmacology and as Chair of the Committee on Safety of Medicines.  

As a regulator, I am intrigued by the possible use of a drug with a previously uncertain reputation in a novel situation and how the regulatory hurdles could be overcome. To take a drug from the 1950s and reposition it in modern medicine especially for an unmet medical need presents a series of fascinating challenges.

John Rush MD

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Dr Rush is a professor of psychiatry with positions including Professor Emeritus at Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS) and CEO of Curbstone Consultant LLC.

John's 45-year academic career has focused on the psychology and biology of mood disorders. His work has led to the development and evaluation of innovative treatments (medications, somatic treatments, psychotherapy), disease management protocols and clinical tools to improve early detection and care for persons with mood disorders and their families. He is the author of more than 800 professional publications and the recipient of numerous awards. He was recognised as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters in 2014.

The focus on improving the treatment of depression, the rigorous scientific approaches being considered and the quality of the scientific team being formed were important elements in my consideration to join COMPASS, as was the strong commitment of the COMPASS leadership. The development and rigorous testing of the potential antidepressant effects of psilocybin, if successful, would be a scientific and therapeutic paradigm-changing contribution, opening new avenues to additional treatment innovations for other neuropsychiatric conditions. The opportunity to make this kind of contribution is a rare privilege.

Luca Pani MD PhD

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Dr Luca Pani is former Director General of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA). He is currently Executive Director of Global Medical Innovation at NeuroCog.

Luca is former Director General of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) and a globally recognised expert in psychiatry, pharmacology and molecular biology.  As Executive Director of Global Medical Innovation, Luca guides the company’s development of innovative solutions for clinical trials methodologies and health outcomes. During his tenure as Director General of AIFA, Dr. Pani pioneered several new approaches to drug approval, pricing, and reimbursement strategies by using advanced informatics to follow and certify real-world data. These models have now been adopted in many other countries. As a European regulator, Luca has been a leading figure for approval and scientific advice for CNS products and served as Chair of the Telematics Committee. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of publications and served on the editorial boards of many scientific journals, including Clinical Neuropsychiatry. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Miami. Luca earned his medical degree from the University of Cagliari, psychiatry degree from the University of Naples and completed post-doctoral training in molecular biology and pharmacology at the University of Illinois and Georgetown University.

Prof Paul Summergrad MD

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Prof Paul Summergrad MD is the Dr Frances S Arkin professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center. He is the past president of the American Psychiatric Association. 

Paul has served as founding chairman of the Tufts Medical Center Physicians Organization since 2005 and is a former president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry. He is a member of the Tufts Medical Center and the Wellforce boards of trustees, and co-chairs the Tufts University Mental Health Task Force.

An international leader in medical psychiatric illness and care, his research focuses on mood disorders, medical-psychiatric illness, and health system design. He has published extensively with more than 100 peer review publications, books, book chapters and other communications. He serves on the editorial boards of Academic Psychiatry, Current Psychiatry and Personalized Medicine in Psychiatry. A sought-after speaker, educator and consultant, he has served as a visiting professor and been invited to give lectures across the world. He is a member of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 Steering Committee of the American Psychiatric Association and the Standing Committee on Nominations of the World Psychiatric Association. He is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists and of the American College of Physicians, and has received numerous other awards and honours including Castle and Connolly’s America’s Top Doctors from 2011 to the present, and the Distinguished Faculty Award from Tufts University School of Medicine.

Paul earned his degree from the School of Medicine at the State University of New York, before completing his training in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and Boston University School of Medicine and in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he was chief resident and a clinical fellow in psychiatry. He is board certified in both psychiatry and internal medicine.

The limitations of currently available treatments for psychiatric illnesses has led to investigating agents which have been previously abandoned or used for other purposes. Recent pilot research has suggested a possible benefit for some psychoactive agents. Given the complex history of these agents, it requires great care and highly responsible leadership to do larger scale clinical studies. The leadership of Compass Pathways brings extraordinary skills and experience. Their track record of entrepreneurship, clinical excellence and rigorous attention to oversight of complex endeavors convinced me that they would be able to pursue this research in a manner which would reflect both the opportunities and challenges in finding new treatments for refractory psychiatry disorders.

Tom Insel MD

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Thomas Insel MD is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who served as Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University and founding director of the Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience in Atlanta.

Tom is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist. From 2002-2015, he served as Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) committed to research on mental disorders. Prior to that, he was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta. He led the mental health team at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) from 2015-2017. He is also a member of the US National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous national and international awards including honorary degrees in the US and Europe. He is currently Co-founder and President of Mindstrong Health.  

Mental healthcare needs innovation. The traditional model of care delivery is often built around the needs of providers and payers not the preferences of patients and families. As a result, most people with mental illness avoid getting care. When they seek help, patients are likely to receive medications, psychosocial therapies, or devices but not an integrated plan that provides all the potential interventions in a personalised, evidence-based approach. The COMPASS medication-assisted psychotherapy strategy is innovative in that it integrates medication and psychotherapy. And it is disruptive by offering patients a treatment that many people prefer. I have chosen to be involved with COMPASS because I believe that this approach has potential but needs to be validated in rigorous, controlled clinical trials. My goal is to help COMPASS set a high bar for science so that, should the data be supportive, patients and families can trust that medication-assisted psychotherapy is an evidence-based approach.

Diego Pizzagalli PhD

Member of Scientific Advisory Board

Diego Pizzagalli is an experimental psychologist and neuroscientist. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. At the McLean Hospital, he is the Director of the McLean Imaging Center, the Director of the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, the Director of Research at the Division of Depression & Anxiety Disorders, as well as the Director of the Laboratory for Affective and Translational Neuroscience.

From 2002-2010 he was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. In 2010, he was recruited to McLean Hospital to serve as the Founding Director of the newly established Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research (CDASR), as well as the Director of the McLean Imaging Center (MIC). Since September 2015, he also serves as the Director of Research for the Division of Depression and Anxiety. He is currently a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The main goals of his research are to improve our understanding of the psychological, environmental, and neurobiological factors associated with mood disorders, particularly major depression. To this end, he integrates behavioral, electrophysiological, neuroimaging, and, more recently pharmacological, approaches to investigate three putative endophenotypes of depression: anhedonia (loss of pleasure), increased stress sensitivity, and executive dysfunction. Dr. Pizzagalli has published over 170 papers and chapters and serves on the editorial board of 10 journals. Among several awards, he received the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychophysiology from the Society for Psychophysiological Research (2006), the Early Career Award from the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (2007), a MERIT award from the National Institute of Mental Health (2016), the Joel Elkes Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2017), and a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award (2018).

Currently available antidepressant treatments (e.g., medications, evidence-based psychotherapy) work well for many individuals, but up to 45% of individuals with major depression fail to respond to available interventions. Thus, there is an acute unmet need to develop novel treatment strategies for our patients.