Nicholas Cozzi


Nicholas Vito Cozzi, PhD is an internationally recognized scientist and educator at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health where he teaches pharmacology. He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in pharmacology from the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy in 1988 and 1994, respectively.

Dr. Cozzi’s research centers on the design, synthesis, and pharmacological testing of substances that have effects on the central nervous system. He’s interested in how substances work in the brain to improve cognition, enhance mood, and increase awareness. His ultimate research aim is to understand their clinical value in treating anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic fear, depression, and other mental health conditions. Apart from UW-Madison, Dr. Cozzi is a consultant for clients in law, government, and the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a visiting professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

In his 1994 doctoral thesis, Cozzi dedicates the work in part to Alexander Shulgin “…for inspiration, encouragement, and enthusiasm.” 1 His thesis examined the mechanism of action of three classes of psychoactive drugs (entactogens, hallucinogens, and anorectics) at the molecular, cellular and behavioral level.

Over the years, Dr. Cozzi has published several highly cited studies on new compounds he synthesized and their effects on receptors and behavior.2–10 He has worked with other noted researchers in the field of psychedelic drugs. In 2018, he worked with UW-Madison’s Paul Hutson on two studies which tested high-doses of psilocybin on healthy volunteers. 11,12 Also, he worked with the “grandfather of psychedelics” Alexander Shulgin in a 1999 study on membrane transporters involved in the effects brought about by ketoamphetamines.6

Dr. Cozzi’s most recent work is examining the pharmacology of tryptamine hallucinogens and was published in February 2018 in Neuropharmacology.13 The study results support previous work on the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor in mice and the action tryptamine hallucinogens have on the 5-HT1A receptor.

More information on Dr. Cozzi is found on his UW-Madison webpage and

  2. Fontanilla D, Johannessen M, Hajipour AR, Cozzi NV, Jackson MB, Ruoho AE. The Hallucinogen N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Is an Endogenous Sigma-1 Receptor Regulator. Science. 2009;323(5916):934-937. doi:10.1126/science.1166127
  3. Baumann MH, Jr MAA, Partilla JS, et al. The Designer Methcathinone Analogs, Mephedrone and Methylone, are Substrates for Monoamine Transporters in Brain Tissue. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012;37(5):1192-1203. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.304
  4. Monte AP, Marona-Lewicka D, Cozzi NV, Nichols DE. Synthesis and pharmacological examination of benzofuran, indan, and tetralin analogs of 3, 4-(methylenedioxy) amphetamine. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 1993;36(23):3700-3706.
  5. Baumann MH, Partilla JS, Lehner KR, et al. Powerful cocaine-like actions of 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a principal constituent of psychoactive ‘bath salts’ products. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013;38(4):552.
  6. Cozzi NV, Sievert MK, Shulgin AT, Jacob III P, Ruoho AE. Inhibition of plasma membrane monoamine transporters by β-ketoamphetamines. European Journal of Pharmacology. 1999;381(1):63-69. doi:10.1016/S0014-2999(99)00538-5
  7. Cozzi NV, Gopalakrishnan A, Anderson LL, et al. Dimethyltryptamine and other hallucinogenic tryptamines exhibit substrate behavior at the serotonin uptake transporter and the vesicle monoamine transporter. J Neural Transm. 2009;116(12):1591. doi:10.1007/s00702-009-0308-8
  8. Schindler CW, Thorndike EB, Goldberg SR, et al. Reinforcing and neurochemical effects of the “bath salts” constituents 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (methylone) in male rats. Psychopharmacology. 2016;233(10):1981-1990. doi:10.1007/s00213-015-4057-0
  9. Cozzi NV, Nicholas DE. 5-HT2A receptor antagonists inhibit potassium-stimulated γ-aminobutyric acid release in rat frontal cortex. European Journal of Pharmacology. 1996;309(1):25-31. doi:10.1016/0014-2999(96)00325-1
  10. Foley KF, Cozzi NV. Novel aminopropiophenones as potential antidepressants. Drug Development Research. 2003;60(4):252-260. doi:10.1002/ddr.10297
  11. Nicholas CR, Henriquez KM, Gassman MC, et al. High dose psilocybin is associated with positive subjective effects in healthy volunteers. J Psychopharmacol. 2018;32(7):770-778. doi:10.1177/0269881118780713
  12. Brown RT, Nicholas CR, Cozzi NV, et al. Pharmacokinetics of Escalating Doses of Oral Psilocybin in Healthy Adults. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2017;56(12):1543-1554. doi:10.1007/s40262-017-0540-6
  13. Klein LM, Cozzi NV, Daley PF, Brandt SD, Halberstadt AL. Receptor binding profiles and behavioral pharmacology of ring-substituted N,N-diallyltryptamine analogs. Neuropharmacology. February 2018. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.02.028