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Meet the Real-Life Academic Who’s the Walter White of Psychedelics

Science By
WASHINGTON, DC- NOVEMBER 10: Actor Bryan Cranston speaks with his "The Heisenberg Hat" on during a donation ceremony of artifacts from AMC's "Breaking Bad" show at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington DC on November 10, 2015. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Bryan Cranston, who famously played Walter White, in the TV series ‘Breaking Bad.’ (Kris Connor/Getty Images)


Let’s be clear: Dr. David Nichols from Purdue University is decidedly more law-abiding than the fictional Walter White. Yet they do have one thing in common: they use academic expertise to create narcotics in their purest form possible.

As all Breaking Bad fans know, Walt chose to focus on meth. Nichols works with psychedelics. And Nichols isn’t out for money and power: he believes drugs like MDMA—also known as the club drug, ecstasy—can help treat conditions including depression and PTSD. As Nichols explained to the New York Post:

“I wanted to bring legitimacy to the field. I have always just been convinced that psychedelics are important and that their importance has been overlooked for all these years. I believe in their value as molecules that heal people. I guess you could say I was a mole in the system.”

Learn more about Nichols’ work in the New York Post.

If you’re looking for a deeper insight into his work, listen to Nichols’ lecture below.