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Andrew Sewell
Photo by Jon Hanna, 2008
Erowid Character Vaults
R. Andrew Sewell
Summary
Born in West Sussex, England, Andrew Sewell trained in clinical psychiatry and clinical neurology, entering the medical field to study therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs. He obtained a BA in Physics from Cornell in 1993, and an MD from the University of Connecticut in 1998. In 2004, Sewell was the first graduate of the combined residency program in Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts, where he served as Chief Resident in Neuropsychiatry. From 2004 through 2007, Sewell was a Research Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard's McLean Hospital, where he initially studied the psychological and biological responses to nicotine and cocaine, as well as the use of functional MRI as a tool for assessing the effects of acute drug administration.

Aware of the challenges inherent in a medical career studying psychedelics, Sewell shifted his focus to headache treatment. As a frequent lecturer at the American Headache Society meeting, Sewell was astonished when he first heard claims by Bob Wold, founder of Clusterbusters, that psychedelics cured cluster headaches. With funding from MAPS and survey development and hosting by Erowid, Sewell conducted a questionnaire related to cluster headaches and the use of psychedelic drugs, determining that LSD and psilocybin are at least as effective as conventional medications at aborting an acute attack; what's more, they appeared able to terminate cluster periods and prevent them from reoccurring, which no conventional medicine is known to do. After publishing his results, Sewell looked into the use of LSA-containing plant seeds to treat cluster headaches, with promising results. Inspired by a 1963 paper by Frederigo Sicuteri, "Prophylactic Treatment of Migraine by Means of Lysergic Acid Derivatives", Sewell proposed that BOL-148 (a nearly non-psychoactive LSD analog) might work similarly to LSD, with regard to its ability to terminate cluster periods and/or extend their remission times. After leaving Harvard, Sewell filed a patent on his idea, "Compositions and Methods for Preventing and/or Treating Disorders Associated with Cephalic Pain", covering the use of LSD and BOL to treat cluster headaches.

Following several years of research at McLean ending in July 2007, Sewell moved to Yale, where he completed fellowships in substance abuse research and schizophrenia research; he also began work as an attending physician at VA Connecticut Healthcare. From 2007 through 2012, Sewell worked at Yale as an Associate Research Scientist in Neuropsychopharmacology, after which he became an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. While there, Sewell investigated the effects in humans of alcohol, amphetamine, THC, salvinorins, and other psychoactive chemicals, looking at the GABA, dopamine, cannabinoid, and K opioid systems to learn about the neurobiology of mental diseases. Involved with positron emission tomographic neuroimaging of cannabinoid receptors, Sewell's primary interest was in exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids to treat aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sewell received over a dozen awards and honors in the field of medicine, including a Career Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavioral Foundation for his work at Yale.

Andrew Sewell
Drawing by Sister Sara Tonin,
from Chemical Salvation?, 2006
Involved with numerous research projects over the course of his distinguished but too-short career, Sewell authored or co-authored over 50 published articles, letters, and posters; he regularly presented his findings at international conferences and professional meetings. He served on the Scientific Program Committee of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, was a Resident Representative of the Massachusetts Medical Society, a member of the Erowid Expert Network, and a member of numerous other professional societies, as well as having been on the editorial boards for a dozen journals. His 2007 article, "So You Want to be a Psychedelic Researcher?" garnered a great deal of attention on this topic.

Andrew Sewell
by Margreet de Heer, from "Psychedelisch Congres", 2010
Sewell was depicted in cartoon form twice related to his contributions to the field of treating cluster headaches with psychedelics. He volunteered as a sitter in psychedelic crisis tents for the BOOM Festival in Portugal and Burning Man in Nevada. A die-hard Burner, he co-founded the Oakburners, a Connecticut Burning Man group. His intelligence, dedication, and quick sense of humor were much appreciated by his friends and colleagues within the psychedelic community. He passed away in 2013 due to complications following a surgery that removed some pre-cancerous tumors.

Quote #
"You can either be a serious academic researcher and promote legitimate study of psychedelic drugs,
or else run your unauthorized psychedelic clinic, give LSD to patients, grow pot in your back yard and so on,
but you can't mix the two; you have to make a choice."
-- R. Andrew Sewell, e-mail, May 22, 2008
Author of Books Chapters
  • Response of Cluster Headache to Psilocybin and LSD [with J.H. Halpern]. Chapter 5 in: M.J. Winkelman and T.B. Roberts (Eds). Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing (2007)
  • Author of Articles
  • "Cannabinoid Augmentation of Extinction Learning" [with M. Ranganathan, H. Fichtenholtz, P. Skosnik, A. Schnakenberg, L. Rispoli, B. Huguenel, S. Jayatilaka, C. Luddy, and D.C. D'Souza], poster presented at the 68th Society of Biological Psychiatry Annual Meeting, May 16-18 (2013)
  • "Acute Effects of THC on Time Perception in Frequent and Infrequent Cannabis Users" [with A. Schnakenberg, J. Elander, R. Radhakrishnan, A. Williams, P.D. Skosnik, B. Pittman, M. Ranganathan, and D.C. D'Souza], Psychopharmacology (Berl) 226(2): 401-413 (Mar 2013)
  • "Imaging Changes in Synaptic Acetylcholine Availability in Living Human Subjects" [with I. Esterlis, J.O. Hannestad, F. Bois, R.F. Tyndale, J.P. Seibyl, M.R. Picciotto, M. Laruelle, R.E. Carson, and K.P. Cosgrove], J Nucl Med 54(1): 78-82 (Jan 2013)
  • "Dose-Related Behavioral, Subjective, Endocrine, and Psychophysiological Effects of the k Opioid Agonist Salvinorin A in Humans" [with M. Ranganathan, A. Schnakenberg, P.D. Skosnik, B.M. Cohen, B. Pittman, and D.C. D'Souza], Biol Psychiatry 72(10): 871-879 (Nov 15, 2012)
  • "Pharmacogenetically Driven Treatments for Alcoholism: Are We There Yet?" [with A.J. Arias], CNS Drugs 26(6): 461-476 (Jun 1, 2012)
  • "Naltrexone Does not Attenuate the Effects of Intravenous delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Healthy Humans" [with M. Ranganathan, M. Carbuto, G. Braley, J. Elander, E. Perry, B. Pittman, R. Radhakrishnan, and D.C. D'Souza], Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 15(9):1251-1264 (Oct 2012)
  • "Dose-Related Modulation of Event-Related Potentials to Novel and Target Stimuli by Intravenous delta-9-THC in Humans" [with D.C. D'Souza, D.J. Fridberg, P.D. Skosnik, A. Williams, B. Roach, N. Singh, M. Carbuto, J. Elander, A. Schnakenberg, B. Pittman, M. Ranganathan, and D. Mathalon], Neuropsychopharmacology 37(7): 1632-1646 (Jun 2012)
  • "Psilocybin Dose-dependently Causes Delayed, Transient Headaches in Healthy Volunteers" [with M.W. Johnson and R.R. Griffiths], Drug Alcohol Depend 123(1-3): 132-140 (Jun 1, 2012)
  • "The Safety of Studies with Intravenous delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Humans, with Case Histories" [with M. Carbuto, A. Williams, K. Forselius-Bielen, G. Braley, J. Elander, B. Pittman, A. Schnakenberg, S. Bhakta, E. Perry, M. Ranganathan, and D.C. D'Souza DC; Yale THC Study Group], Psychopharmacology (Berl) 219(3): 885-96 (Feb 2012)
  • "Problem Child is No Headache" [with C.H. Gottschalk], Headache 51(2): 306; author reply 306-307 (Feb 2011)
  • "Does Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) Have a Role in the Treatment of Alcoholism?" [with I.L. Petrakis], Alcohol and Alcoholism 46(1): 1-2 (2011)
  • "Clinical Significance of Neurological Soft Signs in Schizophrenia: Factor Analysis of the Neurological Evaluation Scale" [with E.B. Perry, L.P. Karper, M.D. Bell, P. Lysaker, J.L.Goulet, L. Brenner, J. Erdos, D.C. D'Souza, J.P. Seibyl, and J.H. Krystal], Schizophrenia Research 124(1-3): 1-12 (Dec 2010)
  • "Probing GABA Receptor Function in Schizophrenia with Iomazenil" [with K. Ahn, R. Gil, J. Seibyl, and D.C. D'Souza], Neuropsychopharmacology pages 1-7 (Nov 10, 2010)
  • "New-Onset Dissociative Disorder after Electroconvulsive Therapy" [with E. Zaidner, E. Murray E, A. Schiller, B.H. Price, and M. Cunningham], The Journal of ECT 26(3): 238-241 (Sep 2010)
  • "The Woman Who Saw the Light" [with M.S. Moore, B.H. Price, E. Murray, A. Schiller, and M. Cunningham], Current Psychiatry 44-48. (Jul 2010)
  • "A Translational Approach to the Dissemination of Evidence-Based Cluster Headache Research", [with J. Herilla and C.H. Gottschalk], poster presented at the American Headache Society 52nd Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, Jun (2010)
  • "Behavioral, Cognitive and Psychophysiological Effects of Cannabinoids: Relevance to Psychosis and Schizophrenia" [with P.D. Skosnik, I. Garcia-Sosa, M. Ranganathan, and D.C. D'Souza], Rev Bras Psiquiatr 32 Suppl 1: 515-530 (May 2010)
  • "Cannabinoid Augmentation of Extinction Learning: A Proposal", [with M. Ranganathan, D. Aikins, D.C. and D'Souza], poster presented at the American Psychiatric Association Junior Research Colloquium, New Orleans, LA, May (2010)
  • "Is It Safe to Drive While Stoned? Cannabis and Driving: An Erowid Science Review", Erowid.org, (Feb 4, 2010)
  • "Psychotomimetic Effects of the Kappa Opioid Receptor Agonist Salvinorin A in Healthy Humans" [with M. Ranganathan, T.A. Munro, B.M. Cohen, A. Schnakenberg, M. Carbuto, and D.C. D'Souza], poster presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 48th Annual Meeting, Hollywood, FL, Dec (2009)
  • "Nutritional Neuropathy" [with L.D. Recht], eMedicine from WebMD Updated Nov 30 (2009)
  • "Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis" [with L.D. Recht], eMedicine from WebMD Updated Nov 23 (2009)
  • "Clusterattack.com: Bringing Cluster Headache Patients and Researchers Together", poster presented at the Clusterbusters 4th Annual Convention, Rosemont, IL, Sep 19 (2009)
  • "Why Do Schizophrenics Misuse Alcohol?" [with M. Ranganathan M and D.C. D'Souza], poster presented at Toward Optimal Treatment for Co-Occurring Schizophrenia and Alcohol Use Disorder Conference, Seven Hills, VT, Sep 14 (2009)
  • "Cannabis and Psychosis/Schizophrenia: Human Studies" [with D.C. D'Souza and M. Ranganathan], Eur Arch Psych Clin Neuroscience 259(7): 413 (2009)
  • "The Effect of Cannabis Compared with Alcohol on Driving" [with J. Poling and M. Sofuoglu], American Journal on Addictions 18: 1-2 (2009)
  • "An Atypical Presentation of Anton Syndrome in a Patient with Preserved Cognition Despite Multiple Cerebral Infarcts: A Case Report" [with G.P. Davis, B. Levy, B.H. Price, and M.G, Cunningham], CNS Spectrums 14(1): 385-388 (2009)
  • "Cannabinoids and Psychosis" [with M. Ranganathan and D.C. D'Souza], International Review of Psychiatry 21(2): 152-162 (2009)
  • "Cluster Headache Associated with Moyamoya" [with D. Johnson and D. Fellows], Journal of Headache and Pain 10(1): 69 (2009)
  • "Response of Cluster Headache to Kudzu", Headache 49(1): 98-105 (2009)
  • "Unauthorized Research on Cluster Headache", The Entheogen Review 16(4): 117-125 (2008)
    Also see comments following "Harvard's Headache Cure: LSD?", DoseNation (Nov 2011)
  • "Disulfiram Enhances Subjective Effects of Dextroamphetamine in Humans" [with M. Sofuoglu, J. Poling, A. Waters, K. Hill, and T. Kosten], Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 90(3): 394-398 (2008)
  • "Norepinephrine and Stimulant Addiction" [with M. Sofuoglu], Addiction Biology 14(2): 119-129 (2008)
  • "Doubts about Role of Cannabis in Causing Lung Cancer" [letter to the editor, with A.J. Cohn and M.C. Chawarski], European Respiratory Journal 32(3): 815-816 (2008)
  • "Ketamine—Peril and Promise", MAPS Bulletin 16(3): 27-30 (2007)
  • "Torture-Happy?" [letter], Boston Globe Jul 9 (2007)
  • "Response of Cluster Headache to Self-Administration of Seeds Containing Lysergic Acid Amide (LSA)" [with K. Reed and M. Cunningham], poster presented at the American Headache Society 2008 Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, Jun 27 (2008)
  • "Should Electroconvulsive Therapy be Given to Patients with Intracranial Vascular Lesions?" [with F. Meyer, T. Chang, B. Price B, and M. Cunningham], Review of Neurological Disease 4(1): 43-50 (2007)
  • "The Differentiation of Frontotemporal Dementia from Catatonia in a 43-Year-Old Woman: Case Report" [with J. Kagan, B.H. Price, and M.G. Cunningham], McLean Annals of Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry 2: 5-10 (2007)
  • "Somatization of Chiari-I Malformation" [with T.P. Lowry, B.H. Price, and M.G. Cunningham], McLean Annals of Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry 2: 1-4 (2007)
  • "So You Want to be a Psychedelic Researcher?", The Entheogen Review 15(2): 41-47 (2006)
  • "New-Onset Dissociative Disorder after Electroconvulsive Therapy" [with E. Zaidner, E. Murray E, A. Schiller, B.H. Price, and M. Cunningham], McLean Annals of Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry 1: 12-16 (2006)
  • "Response of Cluster Headache to Psilocybin and LSD" [with J.H. Halpern and H.G. Pope, Jr.], Neurology 66: 1920-1922 (2006)
  • "Sleep, Fatigue and Pain: The Triad of Functional Somatic Syndromes" [with D.T. Plante, B. Price, and M. Cunningham], McLean Annals of Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry 1:1-11 (2006)
  • "Comparison of the Effects of Binge Smoking of Low- and High-Nicotine Cigarettes on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Hormones and Mood in Men" [with J.H. Mendelson, N.V. Goletiani, M.B. Sholar, A.J. Siegel, and N.K. Mello], poster presented at the College on Problems in Drug Development 2006 Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ, Jun 18 (2006)
  • "Mechanisms of mind: highlights of the 17th annual meeting of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, February 18-21, 2006, San Diego, CA" [with M.G. Cunningham and B.H. Price], Review of Neurological Disease 3(3): 123-128 (2006)
  • "LSD and Psilocybin in the Treatment of Cluster Headache: A Report on Proposed Research at Harvard Medical School", MAPS Bulletin 15(1): 18 (2005)
  • "Hallucinogenic Botanicals of America: A Growing Need for Focused Drug Education and Research" [with J.H. Halpern], Life Sciences 78(5): 519-526 (2005)
  • "Neurologic and Psychiatric Co-morbidity in Neuropsychiatry Training" [with S. Benjamin], poster presented at the 16th Annual Meeting of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, Miami, FL, Feb 1 (2005)
  • "The Dismaying Consequence of the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks" [letter], Time Magazine, Oct 29 (2001)
  • "More about Parkinsonism after Taking Ecstasy" [letter to the editor, with N.V. Cozzi], New England Journal of Medicine 341:18 (1999)
  • Articles Mentioning Sewell
  • "Pot Heals PTSD" by Mark Miller, High Times, (May 30, 2013)
  • "PTSD May be Cured with Cannabis, Research", Cannabis Culture, (May 25, 2013)
  • "Marijuana May Cure PTSD" by Chris Roberts, NBC Bay Area, (May 24, 2013)
  • "Marijuana May Help Cure PTSD", sfgate.com (May 23, 2013)
  • "Can Pot Help Cure PTSD?" by David Downs, East Bay Express (May 22, 2013)
  • "State Legislators Grapple With How to Implement Marijuana DUI Rules" by Join Together Staff, The Partnership at Drugfree.org (May 20, 2013)
  • "Blurry Line on Pot-DUI Cases" by Zusha Elinson, The Wall Street Journal (May 19, 2013)
  • "Seven Department of Psychiatry Researchers Receive Young Investigator Grants From Brain & Behavior Research Foundation", Yale School of Medicine Psychiatry News Archives (Aug 21, 2012)
  • "Is it Safe to Be High on the Highway?" by Eric A. Morris, Freakonomics.com (Nov 8, 2010)
  • "Cluster headache may respond to kudzu products", Reuters (Feb 2, 2009)
  • "Magic Mushrooms or LSD for Cluster Headaches?", About.com (Jul 17, 2006)
  • "LSD: The Geek's Wonder Drug?" by Ann Harrison, Wired.com (Jan 16, 2006)
  • Videos
  • Andrew Sewell on the Human Psychopharmacology Research at Yale University, at the Mind Altering Science conference in Amsterdam (Oct 23-24, 2010)