Notable Achievements

Paving the way for Moving Psilocybin Out of Schedule I (2018)
Anticipating the potential that Phase 3 research may confirm the efficacy and safety of psilocybin for one or more medical disorders, the Hopkins team critically reviewed available evidence on the abuse liability of psilocybin, from chemistry to animal models to large scale government surveys, according the structure of the Controlled Substances Act. They concluded that if psilocybin is approved as medicine, placement in Schedule IV may be appropriate with additional FDA mandated risk management provisions.

Psilocybin Effects in Special Groups - Beginning and Long-Term Meditators and Religious Clergy (2018 and Ongoing)
First studies demonstrating sustained positive effects of psilocybin in several special populations of individuals with interest in spirituality and religious practices.

Interactions Between Music and Psychedelic Drug Effects (2017-2018)
The first study to describe features of music that may support peak psychedelic experiences, and the first study to demonstrate how LSD alters the neural basis of music perception.

MDMA Harm Reduction (2017)
First study showing that pill testing services reduce harm by decreasing intended consumption of unintended or unknown substances. This research provides the first evidence regarding harm-reduction claims for such services for use in legislation and judicial cases.

Palliative Effects of Psilocybin Treatment in Cancer Patients (2016)
Largest and most rigorous study demonstrating that a single administration of psilocybin produces large and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. The results of this landmark study is providing the basis for the initiation of registration trials in the United States and Europe seeking approval of psilocybin for medical treatment.

Measuring Adverse Effects and Challenging Experiences after Psilocybin (2016, 2017)
First validated psychological scale specifically designed for assessing psychologically challenging experiences with psychedelics (what are often called “bad trips” outside of clinical research). Also, first large scale survey study documenting both acute and enduring adverse experiences after taking psilocybin mushrooms in uncontrolled settings. Also in addition, the first study suggesting a relationship between challenging experiences and the personality domain of neuroticism.

Psychedelic Assisted Smoking Cessation (2014, 2017)
First research since the 1970s using a classic psychedelic (psilocybin) to treat addiction, and the first ever study to examine a psychedelic to treat tobacco/nicotine addiction. The pilot study showed that 80% of participants were biologically verified as smoke free 6 months after psilocybin treatment. These are drastically higher than typical success rates, with the most effective medications showing success rates less than 35%.

Measuring Mystical Experience (2012, 2015)
First validated psychological scale specifically designed for assessing spiritual (mystical) subjective aspects of psychedelic experiences. Measuring mystical experience is important because research with addicted cigarette smokers, distressed cancer patients, and healthy volunteers in non-therapeutic studies have all shown that mystical experience during psilocybin sessions predicts positive behavior change at least 6 months after sessions.  Investigating mystical experiences may therefore be critical to further optimizing psychedelic interventions, and understanding how psilocybin affects consciousness.

Assessment of the Novel Psychedelic Salvinorin A (2011, 2015, 2016)
First research determining the psychoactive effects of salvinorin A in humans under blind conditions and first human research showing these effects are mediated at opioid but not serotonin-2A receptors. Salvinorin A is the psychoactive constituent of the Salvia divinorum plant from Oaxaca Mexico. This non-classic psychedelic compound is the subject of intense scientific interest as a novel, non-addictive opioid that might hold promise in the treatment of pain and in the treatment of addiction.

Psilocybin Increases the Personality Domain of Openness (2011)
First study to show that a single administration of psilocybin produced enduring change in personality, which was considered to be a fixed characteristic of individuals that does not change across the lifetime. The personality domain of openness is associated with creativity in the arts and sciences.

Guidelines for Human Psychedelic Research (2008)
First framework for safely shaping the new era of research. This highly cited analysis has provided guidance to researchers and Institutional Review Boards at a growing number of universities which initiated research with psychedelics. This manuscript has helped safely shepherd the growing field of psychedelic research regarding the risks of psychedelic administration and the safeguards which are critical in addressing these risks.

Psilocybin Produces Enduring Positive Effects (2006,2008)
First research since the 1970s to administer a classic psychedelic (psilocybin) to drug naïve participants. Psilocybin led to profound experiences that 67% of participants rated as among the top 5 most meaningful experiences of their lifetime. The single psilocybin session led to positive changes in moods, attitudes, and behavior for 14 months (and possibly longer), with 64% indicating the experience increased well-being or life-satisfaction. The study also established the safety of high dose psilocybin administration.