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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Researchers At Johns Hopkins Get $20M Fund Prompted By Longtime Psychedelics Scientist

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Johns Hopkins University academics just a got a boost in their funding thanks to the recently launched Roland R. Griffiths Ph.D. Professorship Fund.

Recently featured on his life’s achievements as a psychedelics research pioneer and his present work in the NY Times, Griffiths is a psychopharmacologist and professor of neuroscience, psychiatry and behavioral studies. He is the founding director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at the same institution where he is now passing the torch for others to keep advancing on the science of psychedelics.

The funding, to be managed in perpetuity by the university, will be directed to psychedelic research “on secular spirituality and well-being,” supporting an endowed professorship at JHU and the creation of a program on empirical research with psychedelics. 

That is, unlike most of the existing research focused on medical therapies, the trust will assist scientific investigations into the spiritual side of psychedelics and their ability to induce prosocial behavior and life-transformative experiences. 

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This field is what Griffiths’ investigations have tried to assess over his many years working in psychedelics research: subjective effects, the spiritual meaning of the experience, and well-being effects. 

Acknowledging that psychedelics use poses certain risks, Griffiths hopes their approval for medical use serves as the basis for a following extension to other uses, providing safe and supportive implementation conditions.

The professor has notably worked with Bob Jesse, Bill Richards and Una McCann on a 2006-published pioneering clinical study on the long-term effect of a psilocybin macrodose in psychedelic-naive participants, and on a 2016 trial of psilocybin for cancer patients with depression and end-of-life anxiety.

As reported by Lucid News, the fund has received some $16.5 million to date of the total $20 million goal from donors and prominent philanthropists. Its inaugural recipient is David B. Yaden, Ph.D, an assistant professor at JHU working in the Center and author of the recent “The Varieties of Spiritual Experience.”

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Yaden pointed at the relationship between psychedelic experience and prosocial attitudes as “an important area for future study,” while Griffiths sees in the potential role of psychedelics in life transitions a possible direction for the endowment.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

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