Imperial College London

Dr Rayyan Raja Zafar

Central FacultyCentre for Languages, Culture and Communication

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Commonwealth BuildingHammersmith Campus





Dr. Zafar has previously completed undergraduate studies in BSc Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University (1st Class Hons), an MSc in Clinical Neuropsychiatry from Kings College London, IOPPN (Distinction) and a Ph.D. in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College after being awarded the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training 4 year fellowship (MRC DTP) from 2019-2023 supervised by Prof David Nutt, Dr David Erritzoe and Dr Matt Wall.

As a member of the Centre for Psychedelic Research and Neuropsychopharmacology group, his work focuses on multimodal neuroimaging investigations to investigate reward system dysfunction and develop novel therapeutics in substance use and behavioral addictions.

Zafar is currently leading the PsiloGambling study and psychedelic therapy for addiction clinical rese after being awarded a UKRI IAA grant. This grant will be used to investigate the first clinical and neuroimaging study of psilocybin therapy in gambling disorder along with members of the Imperial team and the study will form part of an Imperial enterprise biotechnology start-up initiative.

Rayyan is also a senior scientific officer at Drug Science (formally the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs) where he publishes scientific and policy reports as a member of the Medical Cannabis Working Group and the Medical Psychedelic Working Group. 

Dr Zafar also provides consulting and scientific advisory services in the fields of psychiatry clinical trials, medical psychedelics, medical cannabis, and psychopharmacology. He is also available for comment in public media for scientific and medical commentary on addiction, psychiatry, and the science and therapeutic application of drugs.

Email: Telephone: 44(0)7565 542 074

Awards and achievements

  • Highest performing Neuroscience Thesis 2017

Awarded by Newcastle University and published in Journal of Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 

  • MRC DTP Studentship Award 2019

Awarded with £105 000 for a 3.5-year training program, which includes a research project plus training in research methods and transferable key skills, leading to the submission of a doctoral thesis and the award of a Ph.D. These Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership Studentships are awarded to high caliber researchers who go on to conduct important research and gain worldwide recognition.

  • UKRI IAA Grant 2023

Awarded a UKRI grant to investigate to investigate the clinical and neural effects of psilocybin therapy in gambling disorder.


Zafar R, Wall M, Siegel M, Nutt D, Erritzoe D. Psychedelics for addiction: Past present and future. Frontiers in Psychiatry 2023

Zafar R, Wall M, Nutt D, Erritzoe D, 2021. Dopamine D3 Receptor antagonism in alcohol dependence. A functional imaging study. Journal of psychopharmacology (European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Conference paper) (ECNP poster prize 2021)

Nutt, Hayes, Zafar R, Fonville, Palmer, Paterson, Lingford-Hughes. Neurotoxicity of alcohol dependence (PET/SPECT) – Elsevier book chapter ‘Addiction’ 2021

Zafar R, Barba T, Lingford-Hughes A, Nutt D Erritzoe D. The Dopamine D2/3 Receptor in psychiatry, a systematic review and meta analaysis (In-prep)

Zafar R, Erritzoe D, Lingford-Hughes A, Nutt D. The Dopamine D2/3 Receptor in psychiatry, a systematic review and meta analaysis (In-prep)

Zafar R, Wall M, Nutt D, Erritzoe D. Validation on novel fMRI paradigms in gambling disorder (In-prep)

Zafar R, Schlag A, Nutt D. 2020. Ending the pain of our children. An Audit of of the Impact of Medical Cannabis in ten Patients (Drug Science Policy and Law) (Daniel Cappon Prize in Psychiatry 2021, Imperial College)

Schlag A, Hindocha C, Zafar R, Nutt D & Curran V. 2020. Cannabis-based medicines and cannabis dependence: a critical review of issues and evidence (Journal of Psychopharmacology)

Schlag A, Sullivan S, Zafar, R, Nutt D. 2021. The current state of medical cannabis: recent developments in human clinical applications and potential therapeutics. (Neuropharmacology)

Verroust, Zafar R, Spriggs, 2021. French Translation of a 1959 case study for psilocybin in the treatment of anorexia nervosa

Zafar R, Schlag A, Phillips L, et al 2021. Medical cannabis for severe treatment resistant epilepsy in children: a case-series of 10 patients (BMJ Paediatrics Open)

Zafar R, Sulak, Brambila-Fernandez, Schlag, Nutt. Raising Awareness, the implementation of cannabis and psychedelics in the treatment of advanced metastatic breast cancer. Drug Science, Policy & Law

Schlag AK, Zafar R, Lynskey MT, Athanasiou-Fragkouli A, Phillips LD, Nutt DJ. 2022. The value of real-world evidence: The case of medical cannabis. Front Psychiatry.



Wall MB, Harding R, Zafar R, et al., 2023, Neuroimaging in psychedelic drug development: past, present, and future, Molecular Psychiatry, ISSN:1359-4184

Zafar R, 2023, Psychedelic therapy in the treatment of addiction: the past, present and future, Frontiers in Psychiatry, Vol:14, ISSN:1664-0640, Pages:1-24

Schlag AK, O'Sullivan SE, Zafar RR, et al., 2021, Current controversies in medical cannabis: Recent developments in human clinical applications and potential therapeutics, Neuropharmacology, Vol:191, ISSN:0028-3908

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