Thursday, 19 April 2018

Basel: A trip to LSD's birthplace





For the Guardian - a city profile of Basel for the 75th anniversary of Albert Hofmann's accidental discovery of LSD. Hofmann was a chemist researching the effects of a fungus that had been used for a variety of medicinal purposes since medieval times, for example to bring on labour (and also for abortions). Hofmann was trying to find a drug to treat fatigue, but then... well, read the article!

One thing I really enjoyed during my research for this piece was hearing about the interplay between science and the arts, both of which are big themes in Basel's history. The two are sometimes treated as polar opposites, especially in the educational system, which is such a shame - all the best scientists are incredibly creative. As Matthias Liechti, a pharmacologist currently researching LSD at University Hospital Basel, told me: “Hofmann was an example of scientific professionalism, but on the other hand he was also spiritually open. That’s a nice mix.”