Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Alexander Shulgin
Photo by Jon Hanna, 2008
Alexander Shulgin
Photo by Jack Coddington
Alexander Shulgin
Photographer unknown, 1979
Alexander Shulgin
Courtesy Alexander Shulgin
Erowid Character Vaults
Alexander Shulgin
Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, Ph.D., was a pharmacologist and chemist known for his creation of new psychoactive chemicals. After serving in the Navy, he earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from U.C. Berkeley in 1954. In the late 50s and early 60s he did post-doctorate work in psychiatry and pharmacology at U.C. San Francisco and worked briefly as research director at BioRad Laboratories before becoming a senior research chemist at Dow Chemical Co.

In 1960, Sasha tried mescaline for the first time. He then experimented with synthesizing chemicals with structures similar to mescaline such as DOM. After leaving Dow in 1966 to become an independent consultant, Sasha taught public health at Berkeley and San Francisco General Hospital. Although he didn't invent it, Sasha first synthesized MDMA in 1965; however, he did not try it at that time. In 1976, the effects of MDMA were described to Sasha by an undergrad at San Francisco State University. Sasha was inspired to cook up a batch of the drug, which he began testing on himself in September of that year. Finding the compound to have worthwhile qualities, in 1977 he introduced the material to Leo Zeff, an Oakland psychologist who worked with psychedelics in his therapy practice. Zeff introduced hundreds of therapists to MDMA and word quickly spread outside the therapist community. Sasha's partner Ann Shulgin also conducted psychedelic therapy sessions with MDMA before it was scheduled in 1985.

After that, Sasha Shulgin synthesized and bioassayed (self-tested) hundreds of psychoactive chemicals, recording his work in five books and more than two hundred papers. He was a fixure in the psychedelic community, who has spoken at countless conferences, granted frequent interviews, and instilled a sense of rational scientific thought into the world of self-experimentation and psychoactive ingestion. In April of 2010, Sasha and Ann Shulgin were honored for their lifetime of achievements in the field at the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century conference in San Jose, CA, where a portrait of the couple painted by Alex Grey was unveiled for the first time.

On November 17, 2010, Sasha had a stroke. His recovery went well, but he continued to face a variety of age-related health challenges. On June 2nd, 2014, he died at home in bed surrounded by friends and family.

Donate to the Shulgin Collection project to assist in the creation of a public archive of Sasha's lab books, writings, and scientific papers. More Info.
  • We'll Miss You, Sasha! - by Fire & Earth Erowid, Erowid Extracts, Jul 2014
  • Alexander Theodore Shulgin - Shulgin Research Institute (PDF)
  • Video of Sasha's Memorial Service in Berkeley, CA - August 2, 2014 -
  • Shulgin Memorial Podcast - August 2, 2014,
  • Shulgin Memorial Flickr Set - August 2, 2014
  • Hail and farewell to a legendary Cal grad - David Presti, Jun 9 2014
  • Sasha Shulgin Thought I was an Idiot . . . Once Upon a Time- by Eric Sterling, June 16 2014
  • Sasha Shulgin (June 17, 1925 - June 2, 2014) - Santa Barbara Psychedelic Conference, 1983,
  • Alexander Shulgin obituary, by M. Power on The (June 3, 2014)
  • Goodbye, Alexander Shulgin, by H. Morris on (June 5, 2014)
  • Alexander Shulgin, chemist behind MDMA, dies at 88, by D. Colker in LA Times (June 4, 2014)
  • Good Bye Sasha Shulgin, Psychedelic Frontier
  • NPR Interview with Rick Doblin after Sasha's Death (June 4, 2014)
  • My Conversation about Death with Psychedelic Chemist Sasha Shulgin (RIP), Scientific American Blog (June 4, 2014)
  • Chemist Alexander Shulgin, popularizer of the drug Ecstasy, dies at 88, Washington Post (June 3, 2014)
  • Chemist Alexander Shulgin, who inspired "psychonauts" movement, dead at 88 -- Aljazeera America (June 4, 2014)
  • Remembering Sasha Shulgin with His Psychonaut Friends at Erowid, by M. Pearl on (June 4, 2014)
  • Alexander Shulgin, 'Godfather of ecstasy', dies aged 88, BBC News (June 3, 2014)
  • 'Godfather of Ecstasy' Sasha Shulgin Dies After 4,000 Trips Aged 88, International Business Times (June 3, 2014)
  • Alexander Shulgin dead: 'Godfather of ecstasy' and pioneering psychedelic pharmacologist dies aged 88, The Independent (June 3, 2014)
  • Half of Twitter inadvertently admit to taking drugs, as 'god of ecstasy' Alexander Shulgin dies, ShinyShiny (June 3, 2014)
  • The 'Godfather of Ecstasy' Dead at 88, (June 4, 2014)
  • Who Was Alexander Shulgin, the Late "Godfather of Ecstasy"?, (June 4, 2014)
  • Twitter #Shulgin
  • Twitter #ThanksSasha
  • Author of (Articles)
  • Frontiers of Pharmacology, Higher Wisdom (2005)
  • Bibliography of Alexander Shulgin Publications (2001)
  • Index of Articles by Sasha Shulgin
  • Interviews (Text)
  • Love and Other Drugs, Interview (2010)
  • Ann & Sasha Shulgin Speak..., The Entheogen Review (2008)
  • "The ecstasy man", Mail & Guardian (Jun 2005)
  • A Visit with Ann and Sasha Shulgin, Libération (2001)
  • 21st Century Highs: The Future of Psychedelics, Fringecore (1998)
  • 2C-T-7's Bad Trip, East Bay Express (2002)
  • Altered Statesman, Time Out (2002)
  • Professor X, Wired (2002)
  • A Visit With Sasha Shulgin, by Clifton Royston
  • Sasha Shulgin, Psychedelic Chemist, LA Times (1995)
  • Chemophilia, (1993)
  • US Chemical + Biological Testing, Unknown (Unknown)