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National Institutes of Health Psilocybin Research Speaker Series - May 27, 2021 Lecture

Date: May 27, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. ET to 1:30 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 May 27, 2021 (NIH Psilocybin Research Speaker Series)

11:00 a.m.–Noon
What’s at Stake, Strategic Science Policy Considerations for Advancing Public Health through Dynamic Regulatory Frameworks
Sean Belouin, Pharm.D. CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service, Senior Science Policy Advisor, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Noon–12:45 p.m.
A Breast Cancer Patient’s Perspectives on the Uses of Psychedelics in Medicine
Erica Rex, M.A., Journalist and Writer for Scientific American and The New York Times, National Magazine Award Winner

12:45–1:30 p.m.
Psilocybin in Cancer Patients with Depression—The Experience at Aquilino Cancer Center
Manish Agrawal, M.D., Director, Aquilino Cancer Center

Other Events in This Series