Amanda Feilding is Director of the Beckley Foundation, a UK-based think tank and UN-accredited NGO, which she founded in 1998. Its chief objectives are studying the mechanisms underlying altered states of consciousness and reforming global drug policy. She is dubbed the ‘hidden hand behind the renaissance of psychedelic science and drug policy reform.” Through the Scientific Programme, Amanda orchestrates collaborations with leading scientists worldwide, investigating cannabis, psilocybin, LSD, Ayahuasca, DMT and MDMA. These include clinical trials identifying the effects of psychoactive substances on cerebral circulation, brain function, subjective experience, and clinical symptoms. She co-directs the thriving Beckley/Imperial Research Programme with Prof David Nutt. Through the Policy Programme, Amanda advocates policy-making informed by scientific evidence. She has established a seminar series, Drugs & Society: A Rational Perspective, producing over 40 books and policy reports. Amanda advises world leaders on policy reform– most recently the Jamaican government on forming their cannabis industry.
TITLE: Psychedelics – Medicines of the Future
The Beckley Foundation was set up in 1998 with a clear research goal in mind: to initiate top-level scientific research into the mechanism of psychedelics’ action within the human brain. How and why do these invaluable compounds –which have been intrinsically linked to our history since the dawn of time– achieve their effects, and can they could be used in the treatment of mental and physical illnesses? The Beckley Foundation Scientific Programme has yielded unprecedented accomplishments in answering these questions over the ensuing decades, and most especially in 2016.
Discoveries include -from the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme- the breakthrough brain-imaging studies on LSD and the pilot study of psilocybin as a treatment for depression, and, from the Beckley/Sant Pau collaboration, the pivotal finding that ayahuasca can stimulate the birth of new brain cells: this could perhaps be used to assuage neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. As well as exploring these latest developments, I will dip back into my past as a psychedelic researcher, charting the evolution of our understanding of the brain’s central control system, the Default Mode Network, which psychedelics can subvert with very positive creative and therapeutic outcomes.
I will conclude by announcing a selection of our forthcoming collaborative studies. We are on the cusp of evidencing the medicinal potential of psychedelics to the extent that they must be reintegrated into society and made available as treatment options.