The creator of MDMA Ecstas
Alexander Theodore Shulgin (June 17, 1925 – June 2, 2014) — known informally as Sasha Shulgin — was an American medicinal chemist, biochemist, pharmacologist, psychopharmacologist, and author. Shulgin is credited with introducing MDMA (ecstasy) to psychologists in the late 1970s for psychopharmaceutical use. He discovered, synthesized, and personally bioassayed over 230 psychoactive compounds, and evaluated them for their psychedelic and/or entactogenic potential.
Shulgin was born in Berkeley, California to Theodore Stevens Shulgin (1893–1978) and Henrietta D. (Aten) Shulgin (1894–1960). His father was born in Russia, while his mother was born in Illinois. Both Theodore and Henrietta were public school teachers in Alameda County.
Shulgin began studying organic chemistry as a Harvard University scholarship student at the age of 16. In 1943, he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Navy, where he would eventually become interested in psychopharmacology.
While in the Navy, Shulgin was given a glass of orange juice by a military nurse prior to surgery for a thumb infection. Shulgin drank the juice assuming that it contained a narcotic, then fell asleep rapidly. Upon waking, however, he learned that no psychoactive drug had been present in the juice. The experience made him aware of the influence of placebos over the human mind.
After serving in the Navy (a veteran of World War II), he returned to Berkeley, California, and in 1954 earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.
Through the late 1950s, Shulgin completed post-doctoral work in the fields of psychiatry and pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco. After working at Bio-Rad Laboratories as a research director for a brief period, he began work at Dow Chemical Company as a senior research chemist.
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