Imperial College London

Mr Rayyan Raja Zafar

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Research Postgraduate







Commonwealth BuildingHammersmith Campus





Rayyan has previously completed undergraduate studies in BSc Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University (1st Class Hons) and an MSc in Clinical Neuropsychiatry from Kings College London, IOPPN (Distinction).

He is currently undertaking his Ph.D. at Imperial College after being awarded the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training 3.5 year fellowship (MRC DTP).

As a member of the Centre for Psychedelic Research and Neuropsychopharmacology group, he is working to complete a series of multimodal neuroimaging investigations in addicted populations;

- Exploring mesolimbic reward system deficits in Gambling Disorder as assessed with Functional Magnetic resonance Imaging (fMRI)

- Investigating the role of the dopamine D3 receptor in alcohol addiction with a pharmacological intervention using D3 receptor antagonism as assessed with PET and MRI

- Investigating the potential of psychoactive serotonergic agonists in the treatment of addiction 

Rayyan also works as an Honorary Research Assistant for DrugScience (formally the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs) where he publishes scientific reports as a member of the Medical Cannabis Working Group and the Medical Psychedelic working group. 

Ph.D. Supervisors:  Professor David Nutt

                                  Dr. David Erritzoe 

                                  Dr. Matthew Wall

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

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.


Hase Y, Polvikoski TM, Zafar R, et al. Carotid artery disease in post-stroke survivors and effects of enriched environment on stroke pathology in a mouse model of carotid artery stenosis. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2019;45(7):681-697. doi:10.1111/nan.12550 

Zafar R, Schlag A, Nutt D. Ending the pain of our children. An Audit of the Impact of Medical Cannabis in ten Patients (Drug Science Policy and Law - In Press)

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 - In Press)

Blackman G, Lisshamer J, Zafar R. 2020 Relationship between haematological changes and the response to clozapine in schizophrenia (Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology - In Press) 



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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