EXCLUSIVE: Psychedelics Pioneer J.R. Rahn Unpacks Decision To Leave MindMed As CEO

Mind Medicine (MindMed) Inc MNMD MMED, a biotech company focused on the field of psychedelics, formally announced this week that J.R. Rahn, the company’s co-founder and CEO, would step down.

Benzinga spoke with Rahn on what the transition means for MindMed, the industry and himself.

Unpacking The Decision: In the end, in running a successful company, egos must be removed.

That’s according to Rahn, who said MindMed requires leaders better equipped to pursue late-stage clinical trials and solve regulatory hurdles.

“It’s about removing oneself from necessarily what your ego tells you to do,” he said in a conversation on his commitment to making minds and bodies healthier. “The biggest thing I can do for MindMed, right now, is to realize that it needs a different type of leader, for the long haul. It is really for the best of the mission that is so deeply important to me.”

Rahn founded first-mover MindMed in light of the misallocation of resources for unmet medical needs. The company’s relevance and mission have grown in importance, given the dating of traditional mental health care infrastructures in the U.S., and the demand for new, alternative solutions — those without acute adverse effects such as abuse and dependence.

“Every company needs a different leader for a different time,” Rahn said, recollecting his pioneering of the industry in the face of adversity. “I believe I was the right leader, at the right time … and this transition is just a natural progression.”

Video: How MindMed is Shifting a Revolutionary Change In Mental Health? | Benzinga Small-Cap Conference

Impact On MindMed And Industry: Going forward, chief development officer Robert Barrow will assume the position of interim CEO. MindMed will begin searching for a new CEO, in which Barrow will be a candidate. Rahn will remain a strategic advisor during the transition.

Rahn, just as he brought on world-class medical officer Dan Karlin, among others, tapped Barrow for his years of leadership and competence in execution. The heavy lifting, from the start, is done.

Rahn, often viewed as a pioneer, enabled society a way to efficiently allocate resources to medicinal psychedelics. He raised $200 million, honed relationships with leading research groups, and listed MindMed on Nasdaq, bolstering innovation and allowing both retail and institutional investors a chance to participate in the new age of medicine.

In making MindMed a bigger and better brand, the focus must now be on drug development.

“I think the seminal question that needs to be answered is how do we scale therapies? That’s the future of psychedelics,” Rahn said.

What’s In Store For The Future: “If we’re healthier in our bodies and minds, we’re going to have the ability to live longer," he said. "That’s a key theme for the overall health care space.”

The success of psychedelics is the result of an outcry about mental health and the founding of new ways to lead therapies that resolve traumas and prolong healthy living.

Going forward, a focus for MindMed will be study starts and progressing its clinical trial pipeline. The entire psychedelics industry will be eagerly awaiting the success of other initiatives such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Phase 3 clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD.

In a closing statement to Benzinga, early backer Kevin O’Leary — businessman, "Shark Tank" star, and co-founder of O’Shares ETFs — said:

“MindMed is now entering later stage clinical trials and that takes a new type of leadership. I believe J.R. made the right decision to put his ego aside and passed the baton to a leader that is best for the company for the stage it's now at, as well as the many suffering from mental health and addiction.”

Pictured: Interim CEO of MindMed Robert Barrow, left, with the founder of MindMed J.R. Rahn. Photo by Emil Cohen, from MindMed.

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