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Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry; Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine; Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis

My lab studies a class of compounds that we call 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. We use a combination of synthetic chemistry, molecular neurobiology, and behavioral neuropharmacology to 1) understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying the effects of psychoplastogens on the nervous system, and 2) develop next generation neurotherapeutics.

Olson studied chemistry and biology at Union College under the guidance of Joanne Kehlbeck, and received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University working in the lab of Justin Du Bois. After his graduate work, he completed postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Olson joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2015, where he established a research program at the interface of chemistry and neuroscience.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine, University of California, Davis