David E. Olson, Ph.D.

Headshot David Olson

Position Title
Associate Professor

  • Chemistry | Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Olson's lab studies a class of compounds that called "psychoplastogens", or small molecules capable of promoting neural plasticity.  Such compounds have enormous potential for treating a wide variety of neuropsychiatric diseases, including depression, anxiety disorders, and addiction.  A combination of synthetic chemistry, molecular neurobiology, and behavioral neuropharmacology is used to 1) understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying the effects of psychoplastogens on the nervous system, and 2) develop next generation neurotherapeutics.

Education, Awards and Professional Highlights

  • UC Davis Hellman Fellow (2018)
  • University Honors Program Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship (2018)
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring at Early to Mid-Career Level, UC Davis School of Medicine (2016)
  • Appointed to UC Davis faculty (2015)
  • Postdoctoral Associate, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (2011-2015)
  • Ph.D. Stanford University (2011)
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Sigma Xi
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
  • B.S. Union College (2006)

Representative Publications

  • Cameron, L. P.; Olson, D. E. "Dark Classics in Chemical Neuroscience: N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)" ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2018, ASAP.
  • Dunlap, L. E.; Andrews, A. A.; Olson, D. E. "Dark Classics in Chemical Neuroscience: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine" ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2018, ASAP.
  • Ly, C.; Greb, A. C.; Cameron, L. P.; Wong, J. M.; Barragan, E. V.; Wilson, P. C.; Burbach, K. F.; Soltanzadeh Zarandi, S.; Sood, A.; Paddy, M. R.; Duim, W. C.; Dennis, M. Y.; McAllister, A. K.; Ori-McKenney, K. M.; Gray, J. A.; Olson, D. E. "Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity" Cell Reports 2018, 23, 3170-3182.
  • Su, J. Y.; Olson, D. E.; Ting, S. I.; Du Bois, J. "Synthetic Studies Toward Pactamycin Highlighting Oxidative C-H and Alkene Amination Technologies" J. Org. Chem. 2018, 83, 7121-7134.
  • Cameron, L. P.; Benson, C. J.; Dunlap, L. E.; Olson, D. E. Effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) on rat behaviors relevant to anxiety and depression" ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2018, 9, 1582-1590.
  • Olson, D. E.; Sleiman, S. F.; Bourassa, M. W.; Wagner, F. F.; Gale, J. P.; Zhang, Y.-L.; Ratan, R. R.; Holson, E. B. "Hydroxamate-based Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Can Protect Neurons from Oxidative Stress by Forming Catalase Mimetic Complexes with Intracellular Iron" Cell Chem. Biol. (formerly Chem. Biol.) 2015, 22, 439-445.
  • Sleiman, S. F.; Olson, D. E.; Bourassa, M. W.; Karuppagounder, S. S.; Zhang, Y.-L.; Gale, J.; Wagner, F. F.; Basso, M.; Coppola, G.; Pinto, J. T.; Holson, E. B.; Ratan, R. R. "Hydroxamic Acid-based Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Inhibitors Can Mediate Neuroprotection Independent of HDAC Inhibition" J. Neurosci. 2014, 34, 14328-14337.
  • Olson, D. E.; Su, J. Y.; Roberts, D. A.; Du Bois, J. "Vicinal Diamination of Alkenes under Rh-Catalysis" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 13506-13509.