Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is a leading expert on the effects of psychedelics. He is an experimental psychologist with expertise on psychoactive drugs and the psychology of addiction and risk behavior. Matt has received >8 million US dollars in research funding as principal investigator from the US National Institutes of Health and non-profit foundations. For 20 years he has conducted academic research in psychopharmacology and addictions, and for 14 years he has conducted human research with psychedelics. Aside from psychedelics, Matt conducts behavioral economic research on decision making, addiction, and sexual risk. 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 non-pharmacological factors in tobacco use and addiction. He has conducted studies administering nearly all classes of psychoactive drugs, having published studies on psilocybin, dextromethorphan, salvinorin A, cocaine, methamphetamine, tobacco/nicotine, alcohol, GHB, cannabis, opioids, and cathinone-like compounds (“bath salts”) among others. He has published >100 articles and chapters, with over a third focused on psychedelics. Matt published safety guidelines for human psychedelic research in 2008, which facilitated safe initiation of psychedelic research at a growing number of universities. Matt published the first blinded research showing psychoactive effects of salvinorin A in humans, first research investigating psilocybin in treatment of tobacco/nicotine addiction, and the first study suggesting that MDMA pill testing services reduce harm by decreasing unintended substance consumption. Recently he published results showing psilocybin to cause large, sustained reductions in cancer-related anxiety and depression. He has served as guide for >100 psychedelic sessions. Matt has been internationally sought as an expert on drugs and addiction, being interviewed by the BBC, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Show, Fox Business News, National Public Radio, Labyrint (the Netherlands), the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, the Daily Mail, USA Today, CBS News, the Baltimore Sun, the Atlantic, Psychology Today, Scientific American, Nature, and Vice, among others.

Psychedelic Research at Johns Hopkins

For over 15 years the Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Group has been the preeminent and most productive research team in the United States conducting human research with psychedelics. They have shown breathtaking scientific productivity, having published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts on psychedelics. Notable accomplishments have included: The first research since the 1970s to focus on mystical experience resulting from psychedelic administration to drug-naïve volunteers; the development of safety guidelines for human psychedelic research which have advanced the approval of psychedelic research at a growing number of universities; the first research showing that psychedelic administration increases personality openness; the first research examining a psychedelic in the treatment of tobacco/nicotine addiction; the first research demonstrating the psychedelic effects of salvinorin A and dextromethorphan under blind conditions; the development of valid psychological scales for assessing mystical experiences and challenging experiences resulting from acute psychedelic administration; the first study on the effects of psychedelic administration on volunteers initiating a meditation program; the first study showing that MDMA pill testing services reduce harm by decreasing intended consumption of unintended or unknown substances; and the largest randomized trial showing that psilocybin produces large and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. This presentation will provide a review of this large program of research, including overviews of published studies as well as updates on current research.