Johns Hopkins Medicine is opening a $17 million research center to test the effectiveness of such psychedelic drugs as "magic mushrooms" and others to treat addiction and mental-health issues.
"Psychedelics are a class of drugs that produce unique and profound changes of consciousness over the course of several hours," the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins said Wednesday in an announcement release.
"The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research will focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, brain function, learning and memory, the brain's biology, and mood."
Johns Hopkins said the new center was "believed to be the first such research center in the U.S. and the largest research center of its kind in the world."
It was financed by private donors — and Johns Hopkins said it would rely on such contributors, as federal funding cannot be used for this type of research, which involves illegal drugs.
"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 the release.
"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."
The center will be staffed by six faculty neuroscientists, experimental psychologists and clinicians who specialize in psychedelic science, and five postdoctoral scientists.
Johns Hopkins researchers have investigated whether psilocybin, the chemical in psychedelic mushrooms, can effectively treat opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions.
They have been studying psychedelic drugs since 2000, according to the release. That year, Johns Hopkins became the first institution in the United States to win regulatory approval for such studies with healthy volunteers.
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