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National Institutes of Health Psilocybin Research Speaker Series—June 4, 2021 Lecture

Date: June 4, 2021 - 12:30 p.m. ET to 3:30 p.m. ET

Read a summary of this speaker series and about additional research on psilocybin and other psychedelics:

Overview and Objectives for NIH Psilocybin Research Speaker Series

Overview: Psilocybin is the natural, active compound found in more than 200 species of fungi, which are more commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” When ingested, psilocybin is converted by the body to psilocin, which has hallucinogenic mind-altering properties. These naturally occurring mushrooms have been used anthropologically worldwide by indigenous cultures for centuries in the context of religious or spiritual healing ceremonies. Psilocybin is currently a Schedule I substance under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I classification defines chemicals or substances that, currently, have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Advances in clinical trials, however, are researching psilocybin to treat cancer-related depression, for example, and moreover for its potential medicinal application in treating a range of severe psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorder, and other substance use disorders, as well as anorexia. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted two breakthrough therapy designations for psilocybin, one for treatment-resistant depression in 2018, and a second for major depressive disorder in 2019.

The Trans-NIH Integrative Medicine Course Organizing Committee hosted the first-ever National Institutes of Health Psilocybin Research Speaker Series from April 22, 2021 to June 10, 2021. This time-sensitive, comprehensive speaker series brought together the world’s leading experts, including scientists, physician-scientists, clinical psychologists, and oncologists. Additionally, in order to provide a comprehensive discussion, there was representation from additional disciplines engaged in this rapidly growing field of research, including experts representing patient advocacy, law, government science policy, as well as regulatory policy.


  • Education: provide time-sensitive and evidence-based scientific information, utilizing expert speakers from academia, government, and the community.
  • Research: assess the current state of the science; identify research gaps and opportunities regarding future research needs for investigation among diverse research communities.

For further information or questions about the Psilocybin Research Speaker Series, contact: Dan Xi, Ph.D. (, Ann Berger, M.D. (, or David Shurtleff, Ph.D. (

Agenda for June 4, 2021 (NIH Psilocybin Research Speaker Series)

12:30–1:00 p.m. 
Low Doses of Psilocybin Enhance Motivation and Attention in Poor Performing Rats
Edward Sellers, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medicine and Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada

1:00–1:30 p.m.
Self-Blinding Citizen Science To Explore Psychedelic Microdosing
Balázs Szigeti, Ph.D., Center for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London

1:30–2:30 p.m. 
Psilocybin and Group Therapy: Implications for Safety and Efficacy
Brian Anderson, M.D., M.Sc., Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
Alicia Danforth, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

2:30–3:00 p.m.
Abuse Potential Related Science and Regulatory Perspectives for Psychedelic Drug Product Development
Jack Henningfield, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, Health Policy, and Abuse Liability, PinneyAssociates; and Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Biology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

3:00–3:30 p.m.
Special Considerations for Evaluating Psilocybin-Facilitated Treatments in Vulnerable Populations
Peter Hendricks, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Research, Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Other Events in This Series