Matthew W Johnson, a professor at John Hopkins University and an expert in psychedelics, drugs and addiction announced last week that he is the first researcher to be given federal funding for over half a century to directly study therapeutics of a classic psychedelic.
Announcing the grant on Twitter, he said “It’s official. I just received a U01 grant from NIDA to study psilocybin for tobacco addiction. To my knowledge it’s the 1st grant from the US government in over a half century to directly study therapeutics of a classic psychedelic. Hopefully this starts a new era in legitimacy of psychedelic science. Hopkins will lead a multi-site trial with the other two sites being University of Alabama at Birmingham (site leader Peter Hendricks) and New York University (site leader Michael Bogenschutz). Big thanks to all the colleagues at Hopkins and the other sites, especially Albert Garcia who has been the lead co-investigator and primary session guide on the smoking research for the last decade.”
Matthew is the principal investigator in the psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation study, and also claims to be the holder of the, “first endowed professorship on the planet with psychedelics in the title’. He told The Truffle Report “I’m extremely excited about it. The government funding for a therapeutic trial of psychedelics is something the field has been waiting on for 20 years now in the modern renaissance of psychedelic research”.
The study will be one of the first studies into the therapeutic qualities of psychedelic mushrooms since the war on drugs was declared in the 1970s. The Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman, famous for being the first person to synthesise LSD, was also the first person to synthesise and name the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds psilocybin and psicolin.
The federal U01 grant, known as a ‘Research Project Cooperative Agreement’, is to fund the multi-centre high-risk clinical study into using psilocybin to help smokers quit the habit. It is being conducted by John Hopkins University, New York University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. Global tobacco-related deaths stand at approximately 6 million per year, and that number is projected to rise to around 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Smoking is still considered to be a big public-health concern worldwide.
“This is extremely encouraging. Public funding for psychedelic science is critical” says Doctor Hendricks, professor at the Department of Health Behavior of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “My hope is that this opens the door to further scientific inquiry, and ultimately, the advancement of a treatment paradigm that has the potential to alleviate suffering across the globe”.