Dr Rick Doblin (USA)
Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients.
His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife and empty rooms from three children who are all in college or recently graduated.
The late Prof Roland Griffiths (USA)
BSc, BA, Ph.D
Our dear friend and one of our beloved Mind Medicine Australia Ambassadors passed away. We will all miss his wisdom, love and compassion so very much. What a legacy he has left behind. Let us all light thousands of candles to honour and remember him and keep him in our hearts.
Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His principal research focus in both clinical and pre-clinical laboratories has been on the behavioural and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. His research has been largely supported by grants from the National Institute on Health and he is author of 380 journal articles and book chapters. He has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, to numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs, and as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization.
He has conducted extensive research with sedative-hypnotics, caffeine, and novel mood-altering drugs. In 1999 he initiated a research program investigating the effects of the classic psychedelic psilocybin that includes studies in psychedelic naive and experienced volunteers, in beginning and long-term meditators, and in religious leaders.
Studies have also have examined the effects of salvinorin A, dextromethorphan, and ketamine which produce altered states of consciousness having some similarities to psilocybin. Therapeutic studies with psilocybin include treatment of psychological distress in cancer patients, treatment of cigarette smoking cessation, and psilocybin treatment of major depression. Drug interaction studies and brain imaging studies (fMRI and PET) are examining pharmacological and neural mechanisms of action. The Hopkins laboratory has also conducted a series of internet survey studies characterizing various psychedelic experiences including those associated with acute and enduring adverse effects, mystical-type effects, entity and God-encounter experiences, and alleged positive changes in mental health, including decreases in depression and anxiety, decreases in substance abuse, and reductions in death anxiety.
Prof David Nutt (UK)
BA, MB BChir, MRCP, MA, DM, MRC Psych, FRCPsych, FMedSci, FRCP, FSB
Renowned researcher, policy advisor and author, Professor David Nutt, is currently Head of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and the Chair of Drug Science.
Under the leadership of Professor Nutt, the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College is one of the world’s foremost psychedelic research laboratories, publishing landmark research on psychedelic therapies and neuroimaging studies of the psychedelic state.
Professor Nutt has also held many leadership positions in both UK and European academic, scientific and clinical organisations, including presidencies of: the European Brain Council, the British Neuroscience Association, the British Association of Psychopharmacology, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
He was previously Chair of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
Dr Ben Sessa (UK)
MBBS, B.SC, MRC PSYCH
For over 15 years Dr Ben Sessa has been at the forefront of psychedelic and cannabis research and clinical medicine in the UK through his affiliations with Imperial College London. Ben qualified as a medical doctor from UCL in 1997 and went on to specialise in psychiatry. For 25 years he has worked as a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with young people and adult patients in the field of addictions and trauma-related psychiatry.
Ben started studying psychedelics as a junior doctor and has taken part in research projects at Bristol University, Cardiff University and Imperial College London with LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ketamine and MDMA – receiving and/or administering all of these compounds in legal research settings.
One of the first doctors to develop the field of contemporary psychedelic research in the UK, he was the former co-founder, former CEO, and subsequently the former Head of Psychedelic Medicine at Awakn Life Sciences, a Bio-Tech company carrying out psychedelic research into addictions. Awakn opened four clinical centres in the U.K. and Europe, providing psychedelic psychotherapy with ketamine, for a wide range of psychiatric indications, as well as an extensive R&D psychedelic research program.
Ben was one of the first Medical Cannabis psychiatric prescribers in the UK.
Ben is a trained MDMA, ketamine and psilocybin therapist. He has led research into MDMA-assisted therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder and is published widely in the academic and medical press.
Ben is the co-founder and past president of the Breaking Convention conference. He is the author of The Psychedelic Renaissance (2012/2017), the novel ‘To Fathom Hell or Soar Angelic’ (2015) and Altered States (2021). Ben lives and works in Bristol, UK.
Dr William (Bill) Richards (USA)
William A. Richards (Bill) is the Director of Therapy at Sunstone Therapies and a psychologist in the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has been implementing research studies with psilocybin since 1999. His graduate degrees include M.Div. (Yale) , S.T.M. (Andover-Newton) and Ph.D. (Catholic University). He also studied with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psilocybin research originated in 1963. From 1967 to 1977, he implemented projects of psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of psychedelics in the treatment of alcoholism, depression, narcotic addiction and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals. His book, Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences has been released by Columbia University Press.