Omer Syed

Omer Syed published 3 papers as the First Author and one is in Nature

In a remarkable display of talent and dedication, Omar Syed has achieved a groundbreaking academic milestone by publishing not one, but three papers as the first author. These publications are a testament to their exceptional abilities and unwavering commitment to advancing the realm of scientific knowledge.

A review in a leading behavioral neuroscience review journal - Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews titled "The zebrafish for preclinical psilocybin research".

"In this review, we discuss the possible utility of zebrafish in research on psilocybin, a psychedelic drug whose recreational use as well as possible clinical application are gaining increasing interest. First, we review behavioral tests with zebrafish, focusing on anxiety and social behavior, which have particular relevance in the context of psilocybin research. Next, we briefly consider methods of genetic manipulations with which psilocybin’s phenotypical effects and underlying mechanisms may be investigated in zebrafish. We briefly review the known mechanisms of psilocybin, and also discuss what we know about its safety and toxicity profile. Last, we discuss examples of how psilocybin may be employed for testing treatment efficacy in preclinical research for affective disorders in zebrafish. We conclude that zebrafish has a promising future in preclinical research on psychedelic drugs."

An opinion in the leading pharmacology review journal - Trends in Pharmacological sciences titled "A perspective on psychedelic teratogenicity: the utility of Zebrafish models".

Psychedelic drugs have experienced an unprecedented surge in recreational use within the past few years. Among recreational users, the risks of psychedelic use by pregnant and breastfeeding women are severely understudied and there is little information on the potential teratogenic effects of these drugs. We provide an overview of the previous data on psychedelic teratogenicity from rodent studies and human surveys, discuss their limitations, and propose the utility of the zebrafish as a potential effective model for investigating psychedelic teratogenicity. Recent years have validated the use of zebrafish in the study of fetal exposure and developmental biology; we highlight these properties of the zebrafish for its suitability in psychedelic toxicity research.

 The most recent paper, Managing expectations with psychedelic microdosing, was published by the prestigious Nature

Microdosing psychedelics is a growing practice among recreational users, claimed to improve several aspects of mental health, with little supporting empirical research. In this comment, Syed and Tsang highlight the potential role of expectations and confirmation bias underlying therapeutic effects of microdosing, and suggest future avenues of research to address this concern.

About Omer Syed 

In April 2023, Omer completed his biology thesis in the Gerlai lab with Benjamin Tsang, PhD Candidate (Dept. Cell & Systems Biology, Preprint Editor - Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences) , studying the time dependent behavioral effects of caffeine administration in zebrafish. Upon completion of his thesis, Omer furthered his research interest in the reemerging field of psychedelic use and abuse, and is examining the suitability of zebrafish as a preclinical animal model for investigating psychedelic safety and toxicity. He is currently a Masters student in the Institute of Medical science exploring the use of ketamine for major depressive disorder at the University of Toronto, and continues his work in the Gerlai lab in hopes of establishing zebrafish as a preeminent model for psychedelic science research.