“The preparation before, and the support after, psilocybin sessions are believed by many, including me, to be vital complements to maximizing enduring positive outcomes. And it is precisely this focus of Project New Day’s approach that I find so appealing.”
Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., was a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and founding Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. His principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories was on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs, including extensive research with sedative-hypnotics, and caffeine. Roland was the author of over 400 scientific publications and trained more than 60 postdoctoral research fellows.
In the latter part of 2021, Roland was unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer. A year later, we met with him in to discuss the Project New Day Program Model and his work. We were struck by his kindness, brilliance, grace, and humility. He was immediately supportive, saying,
“I see considerable overlap both with regard to our psychedelic studies on addictions (nicotine, alcohol, and opioids) as well as our research program focused on transformative effects of psychedelics in healthy participants who do not have a current diagnosis.”
Roland’s rigorous and pioneering contributions played a vital role in the recent resurgence of psychedelic research, opening doors to innovative treatments and a profoundly deeper understanding of the human mind.
Sadly, Roland passed away on October 17, 2023. He will be deeply missed by us at Project New Day, the scientific community, and those whose lives have been touched by his transformative studies.
In 1994 Roland started a regular meditation practice that made him deeply curious about certain altered states of consciousness that felt profoundly meaningful to him. It was that curiosity about the nature of mind that prompted him in 1999 to initiate the first study in decades to rigorously evaluate the effects of a high dose of a classic psychedelic drug in healthy psychedelic-naïve participants. His initial 2006 publication, Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance, is often considered to be a milestone that marks the re-initiation of psychedelic research after decades during which research had been suspended due to widespread misperception that the risks of any psychedelic exposure were extraordinarily high. That initial study showed that a single high dose of psilocybin produced salient transcendent and insightful experiences that participants rated as among the most meaningful of their entire lifetime and to which they attributed enduring positive changes in well-being and life satisfaction.
Roland’s research group also conducted a series of survey studies characterizing various naturally occurring and psychedelic-occasioned transformative experiences including: mystical-type experiences, Near Death experiences, DMT entity-encounter experiences, God-encounter experiences, challenging experiences, psychologically insightful experiences, belief-change experiences, and experiences to which reduced anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders are attributed.
A significant part of his legacy is his creation of the Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., Professorship Fund in Psychedelic Research on Secular Spirituality and Well-Being, an endowed fund to be held in perpetuity to support a professorship and to establish a world-class, rigorous, empirical program of research with psychedelic substances to advance understanding of well-being and spirituality in the service of promoting human flourishing for generations to come.
Donations to the Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., Professorship Fund may be made here: GriffithsFund.org.