Matthew W. Johnson, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry / Associate Center Director

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins, is an expert on psychedelics, other psychoactive drugs, and addiction. Dr. Johnson has published 119 scientific manuscripts, including 47 manuscripts focused on psychedelics. He has conducted research with psychedelics since 2004, and has conducted experimental research in psychopharmacology since 1996. Based on a thorough review of known risks of psychedelics, Dr. Johnson published psychedelic administration safety guidelines in 2008, helping to resurrect psychedelic research in humans. He published the first research on psychedelic treatment of tobacco addiction in 2014, and the largest study of psilocybin in treating cancer-related depression and anxiety in 2016. He recently published a comprehensive review of psilocybin abuse liability, following the basic structure of the 8-factors used by the FDA to assess abuse liability. Based on this empirical review, this publication recommended eventual placement in Schedule IV, with additional risk evaluation and mitigation requirements, in the event that psilocybin were FDA approved as a medicine. He also published the first blinded research showing psychoactive effect of salvinorin A, the active agent in Salvia divinorum. Dr. Johnson has personally guided over 100 psychedelic sessions and supervised the administration of over 600 psychedelic sessions. Aside from his psychedelic research, Dr. Johnson conducts behavioral economic research on both addiction and sexual risk associated with drug abuse. He has published numerous seminal studies determining the relevance of delay discounting, or the devaluation of future consequences, in addiction. He published the first human research determining the effects of cocaine administration on sexual decision making, and has conducted numerous studies determining the role of nicotine and nonpharmacological factors in tobacco use, including current research funded by the FDA determining behavioral economic abuse liability effects of potential cigarette nicotine reduction regulation. Dr. Johnson has published studies on nearly all psychoactive drugs classes, publishing studies involving human administration of cocaine, methamphetamine, tobacco/nicotine, alcohol, sedative-hypnotics, caffeine, and the psychedelics  psilocybin, salvinorin A, and dextromethorphan. He is the 2019 President of the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division of the American Psychological Association. He is also President-Elect of the International Society for Research on Psychedelics, playing a lead role in founding this organization. Dr. Johnson has been cited over 7,000 times in the scientific literature, and has received over 8 million dollars in research funding as principal investigator from NIH and non-profit foundations. He has reviewed grants for NIH, NSF, the US military, and multiple foreign governments, and is a standing member of the NIH Addiction Risks and Mechanisms study section. Dr. Johnson has been interviewed widely about psychoactive drugs and addiction by national and international media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BBC, CNN, Fox Business News, NPR, CBS News, NBC News, and Michael Pollan’s recent book “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”