Points Interview: Philipp Rühr, Archival Researcher Network participant.

Following on from my recent post on the emergence of the non-profit psychedelic prior art library Porta Sophia, and its Archival Researcher Network (ARN), this post features an interview with ARN-participant Philipp Rühr.

Philipp is an aspiring psychotherapist with a background in video art, filmmaking and translation. His videos and films have been shown internationally. Based in Berlin, he is currently completing his studies in Psychotherapy Sciences at the Sigmund Freud Universität where he is also working at the outpatient clinic. He has recently received Porta Sophia’s ARN-Research Grant for his research on psychedelic prior art. Philipp’s current focus are clinical trials with psychedelic compounds in children and adolescents, and he is dreaming of compiling and translating a compendium of historic German psychedelic study reports which haven’t previously been translated into English.

Through the interview here, it becomes clear how Rühr’s work with the ARN has dovetailed with his own research interests and career to ultimately support Porta Sophia’s goal to intervene in the psychedelic patent landscape and ensure psychedelic therapies can one day be available at scale to the people who need them. Rühr was one of the first recipients of a Porta Sophia research grant and, to date, he has submitted 30 pieces of prior art in response to the archival prior art targets. 

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Introducing the Archival Researcher Network

Editor’s Note: Amanda Pratt returns to the Pharmaceutical Inequalities series to introduce the Archival Researcher Network by Porta Sophia. Points’ Pharmaceutical Inequalities feature is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.

At a time when the nonprofit psychedelic prior art library Porta Sophia is generating significant buzz for successful interventions on overly-broad psychedelic patent applications (see for example, coverage in this recent New York Times article), it’s worth reflecting on how a network of archival researchers is working behind the scenes to help shape the future landscape of psychedelic research and make these potential pharmaceuticals more equitably accessible. In the next two posts, I will be profiling Archival Researcher Network (ARN) participants to illustrate how their work supports Porta Sophia’s mission. Here, I’ll discuss the exigence of the ARN and its continued development. 

In a June 2021 Points post, Chris Elcock wrote about the emergence of Porta Sophia in the face of ever-growing pressures to patent psychedelic-related technologies. In the 18 months since, Porta Sophia has not only built a library of nearly 800 curated prior art sources (as of November 2022), but has also established itself as an important watchdog in the psychedelic patenting space. The team has directly intervened with sixteen overly-broad patents by submitting evidence of unpatentability to the USPTO and international patent offices, several of which have resulted in applicants canceling and/or amending claims and in one case, a rejection of claims from the USPTO

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Points Interview: Cannabis narratives in British India with Utathya Chattopadhyaya

a banner showing the SHAD journal

Today’s post features an interview with Utathya Chattopadhyaya, an assistant professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He is a historian focusing on the British Empire and South Asia, who looks at British colonialism’s role in reshaping agrarian communities and the political economy of intoxicant commodities.

Utathya recently authored ‘Reading cannabis in the colony: Law, nomenclature, and proverbial knowledge in British India‘ in the upcoming Fall 2022 issue of the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs. Find out more about Utathya’s background, article and future research plans in this interview.

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When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking: The Push for Modernization of Pharmaceutical Safety

Camille King returns with Part Two of ‘When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking’. She picks up where Part One left off, with an understanding of how some patent medicines were marketed misleadingly based on their alleged ability to cure a range of physiological symptoms. In this post she considers how greater awareness was created regarding the content of patent medicines and their implications for public health.

When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking: A History of the Marketing of Patent Medicines

Editor’s Note: Camille King followed her curiosity regarding a beautiful family collection of vintage medicine bottles to conduct archival research and literature review on the marketing of patent medicines. Over a two-part post, Camille discusses the marketing strategies deployed to sell particular patented medicines (Part One), and subsequently considers factors that led to greater awareness regarding the content of patent medicines and their implications for public health (Part Two – forthcoming).

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Comments on The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research

Editor’s Note: In this post, David Korostyshevsky comments on The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research Roundtable Discussion at the Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference, Mexico City, June 15, 2022.


After more than two long, hard years of global pandemic, it was truly wonderful to assemble once again with colleagues, friends, and fellow scholars at the Alcohol and Drugs History Society’s Conference in Mexico City this past June. As I begin designing a new course on the history of alcohol and drugs, it is with particular interest that I participated in “The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research” Roundtable discussion. Without giving a point-by-point breakdown of the presentations and discussion, I highlight general themes and salient observations about the conversation. I also include a few comments about my takeaways from the conversation.

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