Franz Vollenweider



Director of the Heffter Research Institute, Zürich

Dr. Franz X. Vollenweider is currently the Vice-Director of Research and Teaching and Director of the “Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging” Research Unit of the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zürich East, and Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, University of Zürich. He is also the Director of Heffter Research Centre Zürich for Consciousness Studies (HRC-ZH), which he founded in 1998 and incorporated in his research group.

Dr. Vollenweider received his MD degree at the University of Zürich. He completed his doctoral thesis in experimental medicine at the Institute of Toxicology of the University and ETH of Zürich, was trained in neurochemistry at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zürich, and in neuroimaging at the PET Centre of the PSI-ETH. In 1994 he became certified in the specialities of psychiatry and psychotherapy. His research interests encompass the area of psychopathology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioural psychopharmacology of psychotic and affective disorders.
Current research focuses on the investigation of the functional networks and transmitter dynamics underlying the experience of self, visual perception, cognitive and emotional processes and the dysfunctions of these processes in human models of psychoses and psychiatric patients. Multiple approaches including measures of information processing, event-related potentials, and brain imaging techniques are used for studying these functions.

Dr. Vollenweider has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers, many of which address the mechanisms of action of psychostimulants, hallucinogens, and entactogens in humans. His research is supported by multiple grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Health Office, and the Heffter Research Institute (USA), and by multiple AWARDS from the NARSAD and the Fetzer Research Institute USA. He has received the Achievement Award of the Swiss Society of Psychiatry (1990), the Heffter Research Institute Award (1997), the Götz Prize of the University of Zürich (2000), and the British Association of Psychopharmacology Prize (2002).


(read article) Hasler F, Kuznetsova OF, Krasikova RN, Cservenyak T, Quednow BB, Vollenweider FX, Ametamy SM, Westera G. (2009) GMP-compliant radiosynthesis of [18F]altanserin and human plasma metabolite studies. Applied Radiation and Isotopes 2009 Apr;67(4):598-601.

(read article) Geyer MA, Vollenweider FX. (2008) Serotonin research: contributions to understanding psychoses. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 2008 Sep;29(9):445-53.

(read article) Hasler F, Studerus E, Lindner K, Ludewig S, Vollenweider FX. (2008) Investigation of serotonin-1A receptor function in the human psychopharmacology of MDMA. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jul 17. [Epub ahead of print]

(read article) Wackermann J,Wittmann M, Hasler F,Vollenweider FX. (2008) Effects of varied doses of psilocybin on time interval reproduction in human subjects. Neurosci. Lett. 435:51–55.

(read article) Carter OL, Hasler F, Pettigrew JD, Wallis GM, Liu GB, Vollenweider FX. (2007) Psilocybin links binocular rivalry switch rate to attention and subjective arousal levels in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2007 Dec;195(3):415-24.

(read article) Wittmann M, Carter O, Hasler F, Cahn R, Grimberg U, Spring P, Hell D, Flohr H, Vollenweider F. (2007) Effects of psilocybin on time perception and temporal control of behaviour in humans. J Psychopharm 2007 Jan;21(1):50-64.

(read article) Moreno FA, Wiegand CB, Taitano EK, Delgado PL. (2006) Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of psilocybin in 9 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry 2006 Nov;67(11):1735-40.

(read article) Braden MR, Parrish JC, Naylor JC, Nichols DE. (2006) Molecular interaction of serotonin 5 HT2A receptor residues Phe339(6.51) and Phe340(6.52) with super-potent N-benzyl phenethylamine agonists. Mol Pharmacol 70:1956–1964.

(read article) Carter OL, Burr DC, Pettigrew JD, Wallis GM, Hasler F, Vollenweider FX. (2005) Using psilocybin to investigate the relationship between attention, working memory, and the serotonin 1A and 2A Receptors. J Cognitive Neuroscience 17(10): 1497–1508.

(read article) Gamma A, Brandeis D, Brandeis R, Vollenweider FX. (2005) The P3 in 'ecstasy' polydrug users during response inhibition and execution. J Psychopharmacol. 19(5):504-12.

(read article) Vollenweider FX, Liechti ME, Paulus MP. (2005) MDMA affects both error-rate dependent and independent aspects of decision-making in a two-choice prediction task. J Psychopharmacol 19(4):366-374.

(read article) Carter OL, Pettigrew JD, Hasler F, Wallis GM, Liu GB, Hell D, Vollenweider FX. (2005) Modulating the rate and rhythmicity of perceptual rivalry alternations with the mixed 5-HT2A and 5-HT1A agonist psilocybin. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Jun;30(6):1154-62.

(read article) Carter OL, Pettigrew JD, Burr DC, Alais D, Hasler F, Vollenweider FX. (2004) Psilocybin impairs high-level but not low-level motion perception. Neuroreport Aug 26;15(12):1947-1951.

(read article) Hasler F, Grimberg U, Benz MA, Huber T, Vollenweider FX. (2004) Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-effect study. Psychopharmacology 172:145-156.

(read article) Gamma A, Lehmann D, Frei E, Iwata K, Pascual-Marqui RD, Vollenweider FX. (2004) Comparison of Simultaneously Recorded [H2(15)O]-PET and LORETA During Cognitive and Pharmacological Activation. Human Brain Mapping 22:83-96.

(read article) Umbricht D, Vollenweider FX, Schmid L, Grübel C, Skrabo A, Huber T and Koller R (2003) Effects of the 5-HT2A Agonist Psilocybin on Mismatch Negativity Generation and AX-Continuous Performance Task: Implications for the Neuropharmacology of Cognitive Deficits in Schizophrenia Neuropsychopharmacology 28:170–181.

(read article) Vollenweider FX, Liechti ME, Gamma A, Greer G, Geyer M. (2002) Acute psychological and neurophysiological effects of MDMA in humans. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2002 Apr-Jun;34(2):171-84.
Vollenweider FX (2002) Brain mechanisms of hallucinogens and entactogens. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Vol 3, No. 5, pp. 265-279.

(read article) Vollenweider FX & Geyer MA (2001) A systems model of altered consciousness: Integrating natural and drug-induced psychoses. Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 5, pp. 495–507.

(read article) Liechti ME, Gamma A, Vollenweider FX (2001) Gender differences in the subjective effects of MDMA. Psychopharmacology 154:161–168.

(read article) Liechti, M. E. and Vollenweider, F. X. (2001) Which neuroreceptors mediate the subjective effects of MDMA in humans? A summary of mechanistic studies. Neuropsychobiology, Hum Psychopharmacol Clin Exp: 16:589-598.

(read article) Liechti ME, Geyer MA, Hell D, Vollenweider FX (2001) Effects of MDMA (Ecstasy) on prepulse inhibition and habituation of startle in humans after pretreatment with citalopram, haloperidol, or ketanserin. Neuropsychopharmacology 24(3):240-252.

(read article) Gamma A, Liechti ME, Vollenweider FX (2001) Giving MDMA to Human Volunteers in Switzerland. In: Holland J (ed) Ecstasy: The complete guide. A comprehensive look at the risks and benefits of MDMA. Park Street Press, Rochester, pp 327-337.

(read article) Frei E, Gamma A, Pascual-Marqui R, Lehmann D, Hell D, Vollenweider FX. (2001) Localization of MDMA-Induced Brain Activity in Healthy Volunteers Using Low Resolution Brain Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA). Human Brain Mapping 14:152–165.

(read article) Buck A, Gucker PM, Schönbächler RD, Arigone M, Kneifel S, Vollenweider FX, Ametamey SM, Burger, C. (2000) Evaluation of serotonergic transporters using PET and [11C](+)McN-5652: assessment of methods. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 20:253-262.

(read article) Liechti ME, Baumann C, Gamma A, Vollenweider FX, (2000) Acute psychological effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy") are attenuated by the serotonin uptake inhibitor citalopram. Neuropsychopharmacology 22: 513-521.

(read article) Liechti ME, Saur M, Gamma A, Hell D, Vollenweider FX (2000) Psychological and physiological effects of MDMA ("Ecstasy") after pretreatment with the 5-HT2 antagonist ketanserin in healthy humans. Neuropsychopharmacology 23(4):396-405.

(read article) Liechti ME and Vollenweider FX (2000) Acute psychological and physiological effects of MDMA (“Ecstasy“) after haloperidol pretreatment in normal healthy humans. European Neuropsychopharmacology 10:289-295.

(read article) Liechti ME, Vollenweider FX (2000) The serotonin uptake inhibitor citalopram reduces acute cardiovascular and vegetative effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (‘Ecstasy’) in healthy volunteers. J. Psychopharmacology 14(3):269-274.

(read article) Gamma A, Buck A, Berthold T, Hell D, Vollenweider FX. (2000) 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) modulates cortical and limbic brain activity as measured by [H215O]-pet in healthy humans. Neuropsychopharmacology 23(4):388-395.

(read article) Gamma A, Frei E, Lehmann D, Pascual-Marqui RD, Hell D, Vollenweider FX. (2000) Mood state and brain electric activity in Ecstasy users. Neuroreport 11(1): 157-162.

(read article) Vollenweider FX, Remensberger S, Hell D, Geyer MA. (1999) Opposite effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on sensorimotor gating in rats versus healthy humans. Psychopharmacology 143:365-372.