alexander, MD PHD

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I was born and grew up in Northern Russia in a family of engineers, witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Empire and economic crisis. 

When I was 5, my father introduced me to martial arts, a time-tested path of self-discovery I still walk by today. A rebellious and knowledge-seeking spirit, I developed a very strong attraction to nature and biology that navigated me through the ups and lows of the shaky 90-ies.  Indeed, being a teenager that time meant seeing a lot of crime, social injustice and drug abuse. Not all of my friends made it through. One of them died from a heroin overdose and another committed suicide. 

Being 15 years old, I met a very important person in my life, a local university teacher who managed to properly introduce me to mathematics and its real world applications in geometry, physics and chemistry. Since then, numerical tools remain important companions in my expeditions toward knowledge.

At age 17, after graduating from high school, I was accepted into the Military Medical Academy in Saint Petersburg, where I spent 5 years studying medicine in the context of war and natural disasters. From the very first year, I was absorbing everything at least remotely related to neuroscience. There I met a friend who later developed a psychotic episode, which sparked my initial interest in mental health. By the end of the first year, I was accepted at the department of psychiatry and was allowed to take part in clinical rounds and some scientific events. Once again, I was blessed with the teachers there. One introduced me to phenomenology and its applications in psychiatric diagnostics, another took me on board for a very challenging project focused on treatment resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. That was also the time of active self-exploration and the first encounter with a psychedelic psilocybin, a mind-shattering experience, which, I genuinely believe, ultimately influenced my decision to drop out from the military to continue my research and training in a state medical university. During that time I also received initial training in psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioural therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis) and had a chance to work with patients under careful supervision from my teachers. However, only more than a decade later, did I feel prepared to start working with clients professionally.

After the graduation and residency in psychiatry, I moved to Norway where I did my PhD in data science and psychiatry. During that time I was working on application of machine learning tools for brain imaging data to enhance diagnosis of age-related neuropsychiatric disorders. By the end of my PhD – beginning of my first postdoc in Sweden, I discovered work on psilocybin done by my UK colleagues. I contacted them to explore collaboration paths, which resulted in two brain imaging studies and a personal entry into the space of psychedelic research. Today, I still hold a senior academic position, being involved in biomedical and epidemiological studies of psychedelics with research into collective behaviour as my primary scientific interest.

 

In my free time, I enjoy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, mountaineering, guitar and ink painting. My utmost values are intellectual freedom, knowledge-seeking, resilience and the tribe.

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