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Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project: Studies of Mystical Experience, Adverse Effects, Meditation in Healthy Volunteers, and Palliative Effects in Cancer Patients — Implications for Spirituality and Therapeutics
Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D.
Sunday, April 23, 2017 • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM • East Hall
Continuing Education (CE)Continuing Medical Education (CME) • 1 Credit


This presentation will summarize past and ongoing studies from the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project which started about 15 years ago. Laboratory research includes administering psilocybin to healthy volunteers, psychologically distressed cancer patients, cigarette smokers seeking abstinence, ordained clergy, and beginning and long-term meditators. Internet survey research includes studies of psychedelic-facilitated mystical-type experiences, challenging experiences resulting in adverse events, experiences of encounters with the Divine, experiences that have resulted abstinence from drugs of abuse, and experiences that have altered attitudes about death and dying. The results from laboratory and survey studies suggest that mystical-type and insightful-type experiences may mediate sustained positive changes in attitudes, moods, and behavior. The implications for therapeutics and spirituality will be discussed.

Photo credit: Jerod Harris for TEDMED

Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D. is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories has been on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. His research has been largely supported by grants from the National Institute on Health and he is author of over 360 journal articles and book chapters. He has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, and to numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs. He is also currently a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization. He has conducted extensive research with sedative-hypnotics, caffeine, and novel mood-altering drugs. In 1999 he initiated a research program at Johns Hopkins investigating the effects of the classic hallucinogen psilocybin that includes studies of psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experiences in healthy volunteers, psilocybin-facilitated treatment of psychological distress in cancer patients, psilocybin-facilitated treatment of cigarette smoking cessation, and psilocybin effects in beginning and long-term meditators and in clergy. The Hopkins laboratory has also conducted a series of internet survey studies characterizing the effects hallucinogen-occasioned mystical experiences, challenging experiences, near-death experiences, and effects on substance abuse.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is available for physicians. This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA) through the joint providership of CME Consultants and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). CME Consultants is accredited by the IMQ/CMA to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


This activity is geared towards Psychiatrists and Primary Care Physicians.

DESIRED OUTCOMES: 1) Inform patients about new research into the risks and clinical effectiveness of psilocybin as a treatment for anxiety associated with advanced-stage illness 2) Refer patients to clinical trials 3) Develop strategies for conducting their own clinical research on psychedelics 4) Evaluate research on psilocybin-assisted treatments as new literature becomes available

*This activity will encompass the following desirable physician attributes: Patient Care & Procedural Skills, Medical Knowledge, Professionalism, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, Practice-Based Learning & Improvement, and Systems-Based Practice.


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