Scientists today are entering a new era of studying a truly unique class of pharmacological compounds known as psychedelics. Although research with these compounds was first started in the 1950s and ‘60s, it abruptly ended in the early 1970s in response to unfavorable media coverage, resulting in misperceptions of risk and highly restrictive regulations.
After a decades-long hiatus, in 2000 our research group at Johns Hopkins was the first to obtain regulatory approval in the United States to reinitiate research with psychedelics in healthy, psychedelic-naive volunteers. Our 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin is widely considered the landmark study that sparked a renewal of psychedelic research worldwide.
Since that time, we have published further groundbreaking studies in more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in respected scientific journals. This makes Johns Hopkins the leading psychedelic research institution in the U.S., and among the few leading groups worldwide. Our research has demonstrated therapeutic effects in people who suffer a range of challenging conditions including addiction (smoking, alcohol, other drugs of abuse), existential distress caused by a life-threatening disease, and treatment-resistant depression. Studying healthy volunteers has also advanced our understanding of the enduring positive effects of psilocybin and provided a unique insight into neurophysiological mechanisms of action, with implications for understanding consciousness and optimizing therapeutic and non-therapeutic enduring positive effects.
At the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, researchers will focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa, and alcohol use in people with major depression. The researchers hope to create precision medicine treatments tailored to the specific needs of individual patients.