Dr. Kim Kuypers is a researcher and an Associate Professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. On her website, Dr. Kuypers states her conviction that “science is about moving people and being moved both in a physical and an emotional way.”
Education and Work History
Dr. Kuypers received her MSc in Psychology and Neuropsychology in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Psychology and Psychopharmacology in 2007, both from Maastricht. She spent the following four years conducting postdoctoral research there, aside from several months of postdoc work in 2011 at Belgium’s Ghent University. She began working for Maastricht in 2013 with an assistant professorship position which she held beginning her current position in October 2019. In 2017, Dr. Kuypers was elected as a member of the University Council and became Chair of the Research and Education Committee. She has also served as Chair of the Board of Examiners for her department’s Master’s program since 2018.
As a Scientific Collaborator and Advisor for MindMed, Dr. Kuypers guides the development and operations of many of the company’s psychedelic clinical trials. She serves as the Principal Investigator for Phase 2 clinical trials of LSD for ADHD and will lead randomized, placebo-controlled studies on LSD microdosing. In an interview with Bustle, Kuypers stated, “We know from anecdotal claims that people who take conventional ADHD medications often feel that they numb their personality, while those who microdose say that this does not happen with psychedelics, so they stay themselves. If we prove this to be right, this would be an enormous benefit: that you can still be you but without the impairing effects of ADHD.”
In December 2020, Dr. Kuypers was tapped as the Investigator Sponsor for a Phase 2B clinical study on behalf of Silo Pharma. According to a press release from Silo, the research will “examine the effects of repeated low doses of psilocybin and LSD on cognitive and emotional dysfunctions in Parkinson’s disease.”
Dr. Kuypers’ extensive psychedelic research portfolio covers how substances such as MDMA, ayahuasca, LSD, and psilocybin impact human neurobiology, cognition, emotion, and behavior. A 2017 study she led found significant changes to emotional empathy, but not cognitive empathy, after a single dose of MDMA.1 In 2018, she and colleagues found that MDMA lowered participants’ arousal responses to negative sounds, which the authors hypothesize is related to a “lowering of defenses” via 5-HT2A receptor activity.2 She has also contributed to several studies on how creativity, cognition, affect, and mental health are influenced by ayahuasca use.3-6 One of these studies, for which Dr. Kuypers was the lead author, determined that acute effects of ayahuasca include enhanced divergent thinking.3 Divergent thinking is a mode of cognition that the authors say “can enhance and strengthen psychological flexibility by allowing individuals to generate new and effective cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies.”
Another study published in ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science measured changes to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in human blood plasma after low doses of LSD.7 BDNF is a growth factor protein associated with neuroplasticity. Psychedelic Science Review described the placebo-controlled study and its implications for psychedelic-assisted therapeutic treatment of depression, PTSD, and chronic pain. Dr. Kuypers told WIRED, “[the increase in BDNF] shows to me that something is happening, and we need to investigate this more,” referring to the study’s evidence against a theory that microdosing benefits are attributable to the placebo effect.
Dr. Kuypers’ research has also investigated psilocybin’s effects on creativity, cognition,8,9 ego dissolution,10 and mindfulness.11 A Neuropsychopharmacology publication she co-authored on the neuroscience behind psilocybin-induced “ego death” ranked 7th among Psychedelic Science Review’s top 10 psilocybin research papers of 2020. For the double-blind, controlled study, researchers used fMRI imaging to monitor glutamate levels in participants’ brains and administered questionnaires to learn about participants’ experiences. A Psychedelic Science Review article later discussed the study. Dr. Kuypers also authored a paper that outlined gaps in psychedelic microdosing research –focusing mainly on psilocybin– and offered guidelines for future studies.12 PSR also covered Heuschkel and Kuypers’ study that found evidence supporting combination therapy of mindful meditation and psilocybin for depressed patients.11
Dr. Kuypers has received more than a dozen grants and prizes for her work. Among them are three young scientist awards in 2004, 2010, and 2012, four grants from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) since 2008, two grants from the Beckley Foundation in 2017 and 2018, and a grant from MAPS in 2018 to serve as the Principal Investigator of the organization’s Phase II trials studying MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.
Speaking and Writing
Several of Dr. Kuypers talks can be found online, including those at:
- Horizons 2019 presentation of LSD Microdosing;
- Breaking Convention 2017 on ayahuasca and creative thinking;
- Breaking Convention 2019 on her MDMA research;
- Insight 2019 on translating psychedelic research to therapy applications; and
- ICPR 2016 on the neurobiology of MDMA’s positive social effects
Dr. Kuypers has also authored several book chapters, primarily regarding safety and risk-taking with respect to drug intoxication.
More information about Dr. Kuypers’ work can be found on her ResearchGate profile.