Richard Manske


Dr. Richard Manske was a German-Canadian chemist who was the first person to synthesize DMT.1 He was born on September 14th, 1901 in Berlin and immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1906.

Dr. Manske earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Queens University in Ontario in 1923 and 1924, respectively. He went on to study alkaloids at the University of Manchester, earning his PhD in 1926. During his research there, he identified the structures of psychoactive alkaloids harmine and harmaline, and synthesized them.2 

After some years working in the US, including as a research chemist for General Motors and a research fellow at Yale, Dr. Manske returned to Canada to work at the National Research Council. He isolated many alkaloids — including highly structurally complex ones — throughout the course of his research, which supported the identification of several new isoquinoline alkaloids.3 

According to an obituary written by DB MacLean, when Dr. Manske’s isolates were yielded in quantities too small for structural analysis, he stored them so that they could be investigated once scientific advancements allowed for it.4 When Manske first synthesized DMT in 1931, the substance’s psychedelic properties, as well as its natural occurrence in plants and humans, remained unknown.

Dr. Manske died from complications following an automobile accident in 1977. 

More information on Dr. Manske’s research and publications is found on the Canadian Science Publication website

  1. Manske RHF. A Synthesis Of The Methyltryptamines And Some Derivatives. Canadian Journal of Research. 1931;5(5):592-600. doi:10.1139/cjr31-097.
  2. Manske RHF, Perkin WH, Robinson R. Harmine and harmaline. Part IX. A synthesis of harmaline. Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed). 1927;(0):1-14.
  3. Manske RHF, Holmes HL. The Alkaloids of Fumariaceous Plants. XXXIX. The Constitution of Capaurine. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1945;67:95-98.
  4. MacLean, DB. Richard Helmuth Frederick Manske (1901-1977). In: Manske RHF, Rodrigo RGA, eds. The Alkaloids: Chemistry and Physiology. Vol 17. Academic Press; 1979:x-xiii.