One in 10 U.S. adults takes antidepressants. Despite their ubiquity, the drugs work slowly and often come with a slew of side effects.

“These drugs are dampening symptoms,” says UC Davis neuroscientist and associate professor David Olson. “They’re not really getting at the heart of the disease.” Olson, a recipient of the university’s Innovator of the Year award in 2021, is developing drugs he thinks can get at the heart of depression. The goal: a drug that requires just a single dose to outperform traditional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, better known as SSRIs. A drug that can not only treat mental illness but may be able to heal it.

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