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David E. Nichols (born December 23, 1944) is an American pharmacologist and medicinal chemist.

A professor at Purdue University, Nichols has worked in the field of psychoactive drugs since 1969. While still a graduate student, he patented the method that is used to make the optical isomers of hallucinogenic amphetamines. His contributions include the synthesis and reporting of escaline and the coining of the term entactogen.

His work as a chemist is exceptional in that he is still carrying out legitimate research on the chemistry of psychedelics. He has published more than 250 scientific reports and book chapters, all describing the relationship between the structure of a molecule and its biological effects (often referred to as a Structure-activity relationship, or SAR). Although his research mostly uses rats, a number of compounds included in Shulgin's PIHKAL were actually first synthesized in the Nichols' lab. His lab also first developed [125I]-(R)-DOI as a radioligand. Nichols is the only researcher in the last 20 years who has done any research on the chemistry and pharmacology of LSD, and first reported that several LSD analogues, including ETH-LAD, PRO-LAD, and AL-LAD, were more potent than LSD itself. Their human effects are described in TiHKAL. He also improved the synthesis of psilocybin so that it would be accessible for several recent clinical studies.

He is the founding president of the Heffter Research Institute, named after German chemist and pharmacologist Arthur Heffter, who first discovered that mescaline was the active component in the peyote cactus. In 2004 he was named the Irwin H. Page Lecturer by the International Serotonin Club, and delivered an address in Portugal titled, "35 years studying psychedelics: what a long strange trip it's been." Among pharmacologists, he is considered to be the world's top expert on the chemistry and pharmacology of psychedelics.

Dr. Nichols' other professional activities include teaching medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He is one of the world leaders in research on dopamine, and is the principal chemist studying the importance of dopamine receptor D1 in the brain. He co-founded DarPharma, Inc. to commercialize his dopamine compounds; the company is now studying them in clinical trials for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and the cognitive and memory deficits of schizophrenia.

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