Johns Hopkins to open research center studying 'magic mushrooms,' other psychedelic treatments
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Johns Hopkins Medicine announced Wednesday it is opening a new research center to test the effectiveness of so-called magic mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs to treat mental health issues and addiction.

The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which Johns Hopkins said is believed to be the first such research facility in the U.S., is being backed by a $17 million donation from private donors. The university said the center will rely on private donations as federal funding cannot be used for such research involving illegal drugs.

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“The center’s establishment reflects a new era of research in therapeutics and the mind through studying this unique and remarkable class of pharmacological compounds,” Roland Griffiths, the center’s director and a professor of behavioral biology, said in a statement. “In addition to studies on new therapeutics, we plan to investigate creativity and well-being in healthy volunteers that we hope will open up new ways to support human thriving.”

“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients,” added Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”

The center will study the effects of psychedelic treatments on behavior, brain function, learning and memory, the brain’s biology and mood.

Researchers have looked into whether psilocybin, the chemical in psychedelic mushrooms, can effectively treat opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and more.

The new Johns Hopkins research facility will be staffed with six faculty neuroscientists, experimental psychologists and clinicians with expertise in psychedelic science and five postdoctoral scientists.

Johns Hopkins researchers have been studying psychedelic drugs since 2000 when it was the first institution in the country to get approval for such studies with healthy volunteers. Researchers sought to allay concerns of abuse of psychedelics, saying the drugs they will use are not addictive.