The astronomical rise of research into psychedelics results from the work of several research groups that have found the balance between the multidimensional world of psychedelics and the rigorous demands of scientific inquiry.
The fallout from the first wave of psychedelic research in the 1950s and 1960s rendered psychedelics notoriously difficult substances to work with, given their legal status as Schedule I substances and the accompanying societal stigma surrounding this class of drugs.
Consequently, government agencies and many research institutions were initially hesitant to delve into the world of psychedelics. Thanks to private donations and funding by foundations such as the Heffter Research Institute, Beckley Foundation and MAPS, there has been a renewed interest in psychedelics and their therapeutic potential across the globe.
The new wave of research arguably started with the study of DMT experiences by Rick Strassman in the 1990s. At that time, as far as we know, his group at the University of New Mexico was the only place doing research with psychedelics on humans. Although the study didn’t investigate psychedelics as medicines ‘per se’, it showed others that, with enough persistence against wider discourse, the research could be done.
Thus, Rick Strassman and his research group not only laid the foundations for but also helped to set in motion, the Psychedelic Renaissance. A plethora of research groups at world-renowned institutions is now investigating psychedelics and their ability to alleviate the symptoms of mental health disorders. The findings of these groups are not only changing how we view and treat mental health disorders, but they are also changing the narrative surrounding psychedelics as they re-enter the mainstream with largely positive connotations.
Johns Hopkins psychedelic research
The Johns Hopkins research group received permission to reinitiate research with psychedelics in 2000. They were the first group to receive regulatory approval in the United States to research the effects of psychedelics in healthy, psychedelic naïve volunteers.
Since then, the team here has been to the fore of psychedelic research and has helped accelerate the psychedelic renaissance by publishing nearly 100 research papers. Through these publications, the team at Johns Hopkins has demonstrated the safety and efficacy of many psychedelics to treat mental disorders. Still, they have also inspired researchers at other institutions to follow suit and explore the potential of psychedelics.
In September 2020, the ‘Centre for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research’ at Johns Hopkins was founded, marking the next phase of research intensification as the group expands and investigates psilocybin for many different mental health disorders. At the centre, researchers focus on how psychedelics affect behaviour, cognition, brain function and biological health markers.
Johns Hopkins team
The ‘Centre for Psychedelic Research and Consciousness’ team is led by the renowned Dr Roland Griffiths, who first began exploring psychedelics in 1999. Assisting Griffiths in directing the research centre is Dr Matthew Johnson, another household name in the world of psychedelics and an expert on psychoactive drugs and addiction. Additionally, Dr Frederick Barrett is directing research to unearth the physiological mechanisms through which psychedelics exert their effect at the centre.
The team at Johns Hopkins have explored many aspects of psychedelic science, including the use of psychedelics (namely psilocybin) to treat various aspects of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and substance use disorder. Their 2006 study 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.
Furthermore, their guidelines for safety when conducting human hallucinogen research have become the standard set of guidelines for research groups investigating psychedelics in therapeutic settings across the globe. Upcoming studies at the centre will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.
Recently, this research group was awarded the first federal grant from the National Institute of Health in over fifty years to investigate the therapeutic potential of a classic psychedelic. The grant will fund a study exploring the impact of psilocybin on tobacco addiction.
Imperial College London psychedelic research
Across the pond, the research group at Imperial College London (ICL) are also accredited with rekindling the research communities’ interest in the world of psychedelics. The team at ICL were the first in the world to study psychedelics using brain imaging techniques such as fMRI.
After a decade of fruitful research at ICL, the ‘Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research’ opened in 2019, making it the world’s first research centre solely dedicated to advancing our understanding of psychedelics and unlocking their therapeutic potential.
The centre focuses on two main research themes; the use of psychedelics in mental health care and as tools to probe the brain’s basis of consciousness. Researchers at the centre were the first to investigate the effects of LSD on the brain using modern neuroimaging techniques.
Additionally, researchers at the centre were the first to show that psilocybin can alleviate symptoms of depression in patients who did not respond to conventional treatments. This landmark paper kick-started the now global effort to develop psilocybin-assisted therapy into a viable treatment option for those with treatment-resistant depression. Since research with psychedelics began at ICL in the late 2000s, the research group has published nearly 60 research papers that have helped advance the psychedelic renaissance.
Imperial College London team
The Centre for Psychedelic Research was founded by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris. Thanks to his groundbreaking work exploring the effects various psychedelics have on the human brain using neuroimaging techniques, as well as designing/conducting clinical trials, Dr Carhart-Harris has become a household name in the world of psychedelics.
Assisting Dr Carhart-Harris at ICL is the acclaimed Professor David Nutt, a long-time advocate for realising the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and drug policy reform in the UK. Clinical Director at the centre, Dr David Erritzoe, investigates the mechanisms and therapeutic potential of MDMA, ketamine and classic psychedelics. In 2021, Dr Erritzoe set up a new NHS-based psychopharmacology & psychedelic research clinic at St Charles Hospital in London.
The team at ICL conducted the world-first clinical trial comparing the efficacy of psilocybin therapy against a conventional SSRI antidepressant. In this Phase IIa study, researchers compared COMP360, a synthetic psilocybin formulation developed by Compass Pathways, against escitalopram. Thanks to their numerous neuroimaging studies, this research group have proposed important theories regarding how psychedelics work in the brain, including Entropic Brain Theory and REBUS.
Like the team at Johns Hopkins, the research group at ICL is currently planning to conduct a trial exploring the safety and efficacy of using psilocybin to treat anorexia nervosa. The pioneering centres at Imperial and Johns Hopkins facilitated the designation of psilocybin as a ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ and have paved the way for other research institutions across the globe to enter the psychedelic space.
United States psychedelic research groups
Although the University of Arizona may not have a dedicated psychedelic research group, one of the first modern clinical trials investigating the use of psychedelics to treat a mental disorder was conducted at the University. In 2006, Dr Francisco Moreno led the first FDA-approved study in 25 years using psychedelics at UA.
The study examined the use of psilocybin to treat symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Since then, researchers within the Department of Psychiatry at UA have maintained their interest in the field. Dr Moreno, along with Dr Brian Bayze and their research group, is continuing to conduct research into this particular area of psychedelic science at UA ever since the 2006 trial. There is a trial underway at UA exploring the effects of psilocybin on OCD.
University of California San Diego
In 2021, the ‘Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative’ (PHRI) was launched at UC San Diego. The PHRI has developed a research program covering a wide range of aspects of psychedelic science including; pilot studies and clinical trials, collecting fMRI, EEG, and other biometric and cognitive data from study participants.
The PHRI also aims to develop new clinical, ethical, and legal frameworks for how these treatments can best be integrated into healthcare systems. This multidisciplinary research group consists of researchers from the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Human Imagination, the Centre for Human Frontiers at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute, the Centre for Mindfulness, and the departments of Anaesthesiology and Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
At present, the team here are recruiting for a trial investigating the potential of using psilocybin to treat phantom limb pain. Additionally, researchers at the PHRI are currently looking for volunteers for a study investigating the use of psilocybin to treat treatment-resistant depression.
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego, Dr Mark Geyer is the current director of the PHRI. Dr Adam Halberstadt and Dr Fadel Zeidan are the respective directors of psychopharmacology and neuroscience.
University of California Berkeley
The UC Berkely Centre for the Science of Psychedelics (BSCP) was launched in 2020. The BSCP is a multidisciplinary initiative that seeks to explore the psychological and biological effects of psychedelics as well as the spiritual and cultural aspects of these substances.
Additionally, the centre is assisting in the training of practitioners to facilitate the use of psychedelics in a manner that is both safe and beneficial to patients. By collaborating with the UC Berkely Graduate School of Journalism, the BSCP seeks to educate the public on psychedelics using evidence-based and culturally sensitive research.
One of the main focuses of the BSCP is conducting research with psychedelics in healthy volunteers to investigate the mechanism of action of psychedelics.
Dr Michael Silver, Professor of Optometry at UC Berkeley, is the director at the BSCP. Other team members include Dr Dacher Keltner and Michael Pollan.
The ‘NYU Langone Centre for Psychedelic Medicine’ was established in 2021. The centre performs health-focused research across the translational spectrum, from basic science to large-scale clinical trials. Regarding areas of research, the Centre for Psychedelic Medicine aims to focus on; psychiatry, medicine and pre-clinical research. Initial areas of focus include using psychedelics to treat addiction, mood and anxiety disorders.
The Centre will be directed by Dr Michael Bogenschutz who is no stranger to psychedelic research, having been involved in numerous trials exploring psychedelics for various disorders.
In 2021, the ‘Centre for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics’ was launched at Massachusetts General Hospital in collaboration with Harvard Medical School. The Centre seeks to understand how psychedelics enhance the brain’s capacity for change, optimize current treatments and create new treatments for mental illness, and make the term “treatment-resistant” obsolete.
One of the main areas of focus for the team at Mass General is utilizing neuroimaging techniques to better understand how psychedelics promote neuroplasticity and how to therapeutically utilize this process. The team here is led by Dr Jerrold Rosenbaum.
The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School has begun a three-year research initiative to examine the ethical, legal, and social implications of psychedelics research, commerce, and therapeutics.
The Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) will focus on promoting safety, innovation, and equity in psychedelics research, commerce, and therapeutics. POPLAR will be led by Mason Marks and is the first academic initiative focused on this particular aspect of psychedelic science.
At the Stanford School of Medicine, the Rodriguez Lab and the Heifets Lab are conducting research with psychedelics. Together, the research groups at these labs are working with psychedelics including ketamine, psilocybin and MDMA to treat disorders such as OCD, treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.
Recently, the ‘Stanford Psychedelic Science Group’ was launched in order to elevate the discussion about psychedelic science and medicine at the university.
In 2016, the ‘Yale Psychedelic Science Group’ was established as a forum where clinicians and scholars from across Yale can learn about and discuss the rapidly re-emerging field of psychedelic science and therapeutics in an academically rigorous manner.
Research with psychedelics is also underway at Yale School of Medicine. A recent study at the university found that a single dose of psilocybin can cause structural changes in the brain that counteract symptoms of depression.
Additionally, Yale School Medicine has been home to Ceruvia Lifesciences’ research into utilizing psychedelics to treat cluster headaches, migraines, and OCD since 2015.
University of California San Francisco
At USCF there are two research groups exploring psychedelics. At the Neuroscape centre, researchers are engaged in multiple areas of neuroscience research. The Neuroscape Psychedelic Division was launched in March 2021 and is led by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris. The team aim to investigate the positive influence of psychedelics on neural network dynamics and long-term neuroplasticity in healthy human research participants using various neuroimaging techniques. The Clinical Division at the centre are engaged in clinical trials using psychedelics. The centre is currently a site for an additional Phase-III clinical trial investigating the therapeutic effects of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD.
The Translational Psychedelic Research (TrPR) Program is another research initiative at UCSF seeking to enhance our understanding of how psychedelics impact the brain and other organ systems. The team are currently recruiting for a pilot study exploring the effects of psilocybin on anxiety and depression in people with Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, the team at the TrPR are conducting a trial in collaboration with the Usona Institute investigating a single dose of psilocybin in people with major depressive disorder. The TrPR have a number of other studies planned with psilocybin.
UTA recently launched the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy within the Dell Medical School. Researchers at the centre will conduct clinical research with various psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and ayahuasca to treat depression, anxiety and PTSD.
The centre is initially focusing on using psychedelics to treat veterans with PTSD, adults experiencing prolonged grief disorder or depression, and those who have experienced childhood trauma. The centre has partnered with The Mission Within and the Heroic Hearts Project in order to further explore psychedelic therapies for veterans of war.
The centre also aims to explore treatments that combine psychedelic drugs with brain modulation techniques such as transcranial-focused ultrasound and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Through this research, the team hope to explore the possibilities of using psychedelics in tandem with brain modulation therapies to promote maximum therapeutic benefit.
At the University of Nebraska Medical Centre research with psychedelics is underway. At the UN Medical Centre, Associate Professor of Palliative Medicine, Lou Lukas is using psychedelics to improve the quality of life of people in palliative care.
Dr Lukas is part of a wider research team consisting of various medical professionals affiliated with the University of Nebraska that explores the use of psychedelics in palliative care. The Heartland Palliadelic Research Centre was created to complement existing disease-based research by exploring the potential of psychedelics to help people with serious illness increase resilience and reduce suffering for themselves and their families.
Oregon Health & Science University
Researchers at the Social Neuroscience and Psychotherapy (SNAP) Lab at OHSU are investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Dr Chris Stauffer, is the current director of the lab. SNAP Lab aims to maximize the benefits of therapeutic alliance and psychotherapy through the adjunct use of social psychopharmacology, such as oxytocin, MDMA, and psilocybin.
Dr Stauffer will lead a research team from OHSU in an upcoming clinical trial exploring the effects of psilocybin in methamphetamine use disorder. With Oregon becoming the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, it is likely more research will take place at OHSU in the near future.
At WSU, researchers are working with Cybin on an upcoming clinical trial with Cybin’s psilocybin formulation. Dr Anthony Back, co-director of the University’s Center for Excellence in Palliative Care, will lead a trial exploring the effects of psilocybin to alleviate the mental health burden inflicted on frontline healthcare workers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Seattle became the largest city in the US to decriminalise psilocybin mushrooms in October 2021, and with a new bill submitted at the state level that would see psilocybin-assisted therapy legalized in 2022, more research with psychedelics is anticipated at WSU.
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
The Program in Psychedelic Research (PiPer) is a partnership between The Healthy Mind Lab, the Washington University Neuroimaging Lab, and Usona Institute. PiPer leverages 30 years of neuroimaging research and four decades of psychiatry research.
The group has started with four research projects around neuroimaging data in humans and animals. The university also plans to be a site for Usona’s Phase II/III trial with 25mg of psilocybin.
The Nielson Lab at the University of Minnesota is dedicated to understanding and treating trauma. More recently, the team here has been diving into psychedelic neuroscience research and drug policy reform thanks to funding from the newly created Psychedelic-Assisted THerapy (PATH) Fund at the UMN Foundation.
The lab has been collecting survey data to assess the benefits and risks of ayahuasca use in naturalistic settings to treat symptoms of trauma. Additionally, Dr Jessica Nielson and her team are researchingd the neurological mechanisms of altered states of consciousness and their role in promoting neuroplasticity and wellness in healthy research participants.
Research with psychedelics has been taking place at Columbia University in New York since 2014. Researchers from various departments at the university including Medicine, Psychology and Psychiatry have conducted numerous trials investigating the effects ketamine has on substance use disorders. Some research exploring the anti-depressant effects of ketamine has also taken place.
More recently, Columbia University served as a test site for COMPASS Pathway’s COMP360 trial which explored the effects of psilocybin on treatment-resistant depression. Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Dr David Hellerstein served as the principal investigator at this study site.
The Centre for Integrated Psychedelic Science at Duke University is a multidisciplinary collaboration dedicated to studying the mechanistic, phenomenological, therapeutic, and relational effects of psychedelic compounds.
Launched in 2022, the team at CIPS is investigating the mechanistic, phenomenological, therapeutic, and relational effects of psychedelic compounds and their creative, self-enhancing, and sociocultural roles.
The Center for Psychedelics and Spirituality at Emory University combines expertise in psychiatry with spiritual health to better understand the therapeutic promise of psychedelics as medicine.
Launched at the end of 2022, the group will work towards making psychedelic-assisted therapies more effective within a wide cultural and spiritual context.
The Michigan Psychedelic Center (M-PsyC) at the University of Michigan Medical Center was launched in 2022 to span the psychedelic research landscape, from foundational discovery to clinical implementation.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances is dedicated to exploring the scientific, historical, and cultural aspects of psychoactive substances, focusing on psychedelics.
The Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research located at Mount Sinai and the James J. Peters Department of Veterans Affairs examines the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related symptoms.
University of California Davis
The Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics (IPN) at UC Davis explores the neuroscience of psychedelics. Under the lead of David Olson, the team conducts high-impact interdisciplinary psychedelic science using modern neurobiology and chemistry tools.
Contributions by the group include; discovering that psychedelics promote neural plasticity, developing a biosensor for measuring hallucinogenic potential, and designing non-hallucinogenic psychedelic analogues with therapeutic potential.
Canadian psychedelic research groups
The ‘Psychedelic Studies Research Program’ (PSRP) was established at the University of Toronto Mississauga in 2020. The PSRP seeks to enhance our understanding of psychedelics through rigorous studies and through collaborations with other research groups and industry partners.
At present, the team at the PSRP is planning to conduct a double-blind randomized controlled trial investigating the benefits and drawbacks of microdosing psilocybin.
In response to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, a research group at Vancouver Island University (VIU) have been awarded funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the exploration of psychedelic therapies for front-line workers.
Led by Dr Shannon Dames, the team are currently focusing on ketamine-assisted therapy for front-line workers experiencing symptoms of PTSD and emotional distress as a result of their experiences working through the pandemic.
South American research groups
The University of São Paulo is somewhat of a hub for psychedelic research, specifically with ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is legal in Brazil given its traditional use by religions such as Santo Daime, União do Vegetal, and Barquinha.
Directed by Dr Elisaldo Luiz de Araujo Carlini, The Centro Brasileiro de Informações sobre Drogas Psicotrópicas (CEBRID), the Brazilian Center for Information on Psychotropic Drugs, is where much of the research with psychedelics like ayahuasca. At CEBRID, research groups analyze plant medicines from three different perspectives: ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and pharmacology/toxicology.
University Federal of Rio Grande do Norte
At the University Federal of Rio Grande do Norte, research with psychedelics has been taking place for the past ten years and more. Much of the research is taking place at The Brain Institue at UFRGN.
Similar to the University of São Paulo, psychedelic research at UFRGN is primarily taking place with ayahuasca give its legal status in Brazil.
UBA is home to the Consciousness, Culture and Complexity Lab which consists of a multidisciplinary team devoted to the quantitative analysis of high-throughput field and naturalistic studies of human consciousness and cognition. Their sister lab, Phalaris, is specifically dedicated to using psychedelics to study these aspects of neuroscience.
Enzo Tagliazucchi oversees the work at both labs. As well as conducting clinical research with psychedelics, Enzo and the team at Phalaris work to make psychedelics visible as native substances of the American continent and advocate for an evidence-based approach toward drug policy.
European psychedelic research groups
The University of Basel Department of Biomedicine hosts the Liechti Lab research group, headed by Matthias Liechti. Research here is primarily focused on the pharmacology of psychoactive substances. In 2020, MindMed launched Project Lucy in collaboration with Dr Liechti and Dr Peter Gasser and their team at University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. Project Lucy is exclusively dedicated to exploring the potential of LSD to treat anxiety disorders, with Phase-IIa trials nearing completion.
Almost all of the research currently exploring the effects of LSD is taking place at University Hospital Basel. Researchers here are exploring the potential of LSD to treat Cluster Headache, Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety associated with severe somatic diseases. Professor Liechti is also conducting a study comparing the acute effects of LSD, psilocybin and mescaline. Additionally, researchers are currently recruiting participants for a study exploring the effects of MDMA to induce fear extinction, an important aspect of PTSD treatment.
While Maastricht University may not have a dedicated psychedelic research group, various researchers at the university are investigating the effects of psychedelics. Early research exploring psychedelics at Maastricht focused on the dangers of MDMA.
Now, research into the effects of microdosing is being led by Dr Kim Kuypers. Other research ongoing at the university is investigating cannabis as well as novel psychoactive substances (NPS). Maastricht is collaborating on research with the Beckley Foundation as well as Silo Pharma.
Leiden University doesn’t have a dedicated research centre for psychedelics. However, several staff members from their medical centre and psychology faculty are working with psychedelics. Researchers here are working with other universities including Utrecht University as well as Compass Pathways.
Some researchers at Utrecht University are working on a large psychedelics study with colleagues from Leiden University, but this university hasn’t set up any department specifically for psychedelic studies.
Within the ‘Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics’ at the University of Zurich, Dr Milan Scheidegger is leading a team conducting psychedelic research and therapy development. Researchers here are investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelics to reverse maladaptive neurobehavioral patterns in stress-related mood disorders and to enhance psychotherapeutic learning capabilities.
Clerkenwell Health has recently announced they will be collaborating with researchers at the University of Manchester to run their first Phase II study. This trial aims to assess the impact of talking therapy informed by Perceptual Control Theory alongside two different doses of psilocybin. This trial will be led by Dr Sara Tai who has previously been involved with Compass Pathways.
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
The MIND Foundation recently announced a partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is affiliated with Humboldt University and Free University Berlin.
This partnership will see researchers at the hospital carrying out a clinical study with psilocybin in 144 patients with treatment-resistant depression. The study will also take place at the Central Institute for Mental Health Mannheim.
The Neurobiology Research Unit (NRU) at Copenhagen University Hospital has been carrying out clinical and preclinical research with psychedelics since 2017. The team at the NRU have been utilizing various neuroimaging techniques to better understand how psychedelics exert their effects on the brain.
Since delving into the world of psychedelics, this research group have published eight peer-reviewed articles on various aspects of psychedelic science and have facilitated almost 50 medium-dose psilocybin sessions. The NRU is currently led by Professor Gitte Moos Knudsen who specializes in translational neurobiology and neurology.
In October 2021, the Understanding Neuroplasticity Induced by Tryptamines (UNITY) Project was launched at University College London. UNITY will be the first-in-human study of psychedelics at UCL. The team will utilize techniques such as fMRI, eye-tracking and experience sampling to enhance our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms predicting cognitive and mental health outcomes following psychedelic use. Their first study aims to investigate the effects of DMT on a number of variables.
At the Centre for Affective Disorders at KCL, The Psychedelic Trials Group is undertaking controlled clinical trials with psychedelics & related compounds. These trials are led by Dr James Rucker and Professor Allan Young. The research team at KCL are working closely with a number of companies in the space including COMPASS Pathways, MAPS and Beckley Psytech, investigating substances like MDMA, psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT.
Researchers at Aarhus University are undertaking a study investigating how and why people in Denmark microdose. The aim of this study is to generate knowledge on potentially new forms of self-care that are emerging and existing outside the national healthcare system in Denmark.
Led by Margit Anne Petersen at the Centre for Drug and Alcohol Research, the project also intends to explore those areas where the healthcare system potentially fails to accommodate people in contemporary society, who either refuse available prescribed treatment or fail to qualify as patients.
Oceania psychedelic research groups
The Clinical Psychedelic Research Lab at Monash University is Australia‘s first research group dedicated to the study of psychedelic’s. The lab is developing a rigorous program for the study of all aspects of psychedelic medicine and is run by Dr Paul Liknaitzky.
The first clinical trial at this research centre will investigate the use of psilocybin for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Additionally, in September 2021, therapists completed training for an upcoming trial investigating MDMA-assisted for PTSD at the lab. This training was developed and delivered by MAPS. The lab has also put forward a proposal to conduct a Phase IIb clinical trial of the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
At USYD, two research teams have recently been awarded over $3 million AUD by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) under the Australian Government’s Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant.
One group will be led by Associate Professor Kirsten Morley from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and will examine the efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy to treat combined Alcohol Use Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The second research team have been awarded funding to conduct a trial exploring the effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy for the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.
Asia psychedelic research groups
The Center for Psychedelic Research at Hadassah BrainLabs in Israel is the only research group in Asia dedicated to psychedelic research. Though there are other individual researchers, no other research lab has been started.
Psychedelic research future
Together, these psychedelic research groups and the work they are doing is helping to illuminate the therapeutic potential held by psychedelics. Such rigorous research is needed to satisfy the gold standards of biomedicine in order to turn the potential held by these substances into a reality.
Evidence from the myriad of clinical trials that are currently taking place, or that are planned for the near future, is essential to demonstrate to regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EMA that psychedelics are not devoid of medical value as their current status as Schedule I substances suggests.
Furthermore, it is imperative that such findings are relayed to the public in a manner that is accessible to help address the stigma surrounding psychedelics. Given the unique relationship society has with psychedelic substances, medicalizing psychedelics is not just a matter of generating clinical evidence but is also deeply entangled with the world of politics and culture.
Nonetheless, as time goes on it is likely more, and more research groups will emerge across the globe, bringing with them a wider lens than that of purely scientific inquiry. Thanks to work carried out by these various research groups, we continue to edge closer to a future where treatment models utilizing psychedelics are viable therapy options for people with mental health disorders.
Research Groups Overview
These are the psychedelic research groups that are advancing the study of psychedelics, consciousness, and the way we treat mental health disorders.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University (Medicine) is host to the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which is one of the leading research institutes into psychedelics. The center is led by Roland Griffiths and Matthew Johnson.
Imperial College London
The Centre for Psychedelic Research studies the action (in the brain) and clinical use of psychedelics, with a focus on depression.
University of Arizona
Dr Franscio Moreno at the University of Arizona has been exploring the potential of psychedelic's to treat OCD.
University of California San Diego
The Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative (PHRI) at UC San Diego conducts novel basic and clinical research on the use of psychedelics.
University of California Berkley
The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) is exploring psychedelics as tools for understanding the brain and mind, enhancing well-being, and deepening spirituality.
NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine
The Center for Psychedelic Medicine performs health-focused research across the translational spectrum, from basic science to large-scale clinical trials.
Harvard is working with Mass General and their team at the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics. Harvard Law School recently launched their POPLAR initiative.
Researchers at Stanford are exploring the potential of ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin by connecting neuroscience, psychiatry and anesthesiology.
The Yale Psychedelic Science Group was established in 2016.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto has established the Psychedelic Studies Research Program.
Vancouver Island University
Researchers at VIU are exploring the potential of using psychedelics to treat front-line workers experiencing PTSD symptoms and emotional distress.
Maastricht University is host to the psychopharmacology department (Psychopharmacology in Maastricht) where various researchers are investigating the effects of psychedelics.
Leiden University Medical Center is doing several studies into psychedelics. They do this in cooperation with other universities (e.g. Utrecht University) and companies (e.g. COMPASS).
Some researchers at Utrecht University are working on a large psychedelics study with colleagues from Leiden University, but this university hasn't set up any department specifically for psychedelic studies.
University of Zurich
Within the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the University of Zurich, Dr Mialn Scheidegger is leading team conducting psychedelic research and therapy development.
University of Basel
The University of Basel Department of Biomedicine hosts the Liechti Lab research group, headed by Matthias Liechti.
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
The MIND Foundation recently announced a partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
The Clinical Psychedelic Research Lab at Monash University is Australia's first research group dedicated to the study of psychedelics.
University of Copenhagen
The Neurobiology Research Unit (NRU) at Copenhagen University Hospital have been carrying clinical and preclinical research with psychedelics since 2017.
University College London
In October 2021, the Understanding Neuroplasticity Induced by Tryptamines (UNITY) Project was launched at University College London.
University of California San Francisco
At UCSF, there are two research teams dedicated to the study of psychedelics; the Neuroscape Psychedelic Division and the Translational Psychedelic Research Program.
Highlighted Psychedelic Researchers
These are some of the best known psychedelic researchers that have contributed significantly to the advancement of psychedelic science.
Rick Strassman is an associate professor of psychiatry and best known for his DMT research in the late 1990s and his subsequent book DMT: The Spirit Molecule.
Roland R. Griffiths is one of the strongest voices in psychedelics research. With over 400 journal articles under his belt and as one of the first researchers in the psychedelics renaissance, he has been a vital part of the research community.
Matthew Johnson is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. His research is concerned with addiction medicine, drug abuse, and drug dependence.
Frederick Streeter Barrett is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and works at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris is the Founding Director of the Neuroscape Psychedelics Division at UCSF. Previously he led the Psychedelic group at Imperial College London.
David John Nutt is a great advocate for looking at drugs and their harm objectively and scientifically. This got him dismissed as ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) chairman.
David Erritzoe is the clinical director of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. His work focuses on brain imaging (PET/(f)MRI).
Francisco A. Moreno, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Vice President at the University of Arizona
Michael Silver is the current director at the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics
Michael Pollan is a prolific writer that has shaped our opinions on food (production, consumption, ethics) for decades. He is a professor at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Harvard. His book How to Change Your Mind has given the psychedelics renaissance a welcome boost.
Dr Shannon Dames is a Professor of Nursing at Vancouver Island University.
Kim Kuypers is a researcher at Maastricht University. Her work is concerned with understanding the neurobiology underlying flexible cognition, empathy, and well-being. One of the main ways she does is with the use of psychedelics.
Matthias Emanuel Liechti is the research group leader at the Liechti Lab at the University of Basel.
Peter Gasser has done work on LSD and life-threatening diseases in Switzerland since 2008. He is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and study lead, working in private practice.