Alexander Shulgin

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Alexander "Sasha" Theodore Shulgin[1] (born June 17, 1925) is an American pharmacologist, chemist and drug developer.

Shulgin is credited with the popularization of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, especially for psychopharmaceutical use and the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In subsequent years, Shulgin discovered, synthesized, and bioassayed over 230 psychoactive compounds. In 1991 and 1997, he and his wife Ann Shulgin authored the books PiHKAL and TiHKAL on the topic of psychoactive drugs. Shulgin discovered many noteworthy phenethylamines including the 2C* family of which 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, 2C-E, 2C-I, and 2C-B are most well known. Additionally, Shulgin performed seminal work into the descriptive synthesis of compounds based on the organic compound tryptamine.


Life and career

Shulgin was born in Berkeley, California to Theodore Stevens Shulgin (1893–1978)[2] and Henrietta D. Shulgin (1888–1960).[3] Both Theodore and Henrietta, originally from Russia, were public school teachers in Alameda County.[4]

Shulgin began studying organic chemistry as a Harvard University scholarship student. In 1943, at the age of 19, he dropped out of school, and joined the U.S. Navy, where he eventually became interested in pharmacology.[5] After serving in the Navy (veteran of World War II), he returned to Berkeley, California, and in 1954 earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Through the late 1950s, Shulgin completed post-doctoral work in the fields of psychiatry and pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco. After working at Bio-Rad Laboratories as a research director for a brief period, he began work at Dow Chemical Company as a senior research chemist.[5]

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