Matthew W. Johnson, PhD

Senior Researcher, Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Matthew W. Johnson, PhD, is a senior researcher for the Center of Excellence for Psilocybin Research and Treatment at Sheppard Pratt’s Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics. He is one of the world’s most accomplished scientists on the human effects of psychedelics and has conducted seminal research in the behavioral economics of drug use, addiction, and risk behavior. Dr. Johnson, an expert in behavioral pharmacology research, has decades of experience. In his most recent role, he served as a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dr. Johnson’s current research centers around the efficacy and safety of psychedelics in the treatment of various medical and mental health conditions. 

In 2008, Dr. Johnson played a crucial role in revitalizing human psychedelic research by publishing psychedelic risk and safety guidelines, which are now widely recognized as field standards. His trials have explored the effects of psychedelics on mystical experience, personality change, cancer distress treatment, and depression treatment. Dr. Johnson  published the first research on psychedelic treatment for tobacco addiction in 2014. In 2021, he received the first federal grant in a half century for treatment research with a classic psychedelic. He has received continuous National Institute of Health (NIH) funding as Principal Investigator since 2009 and has reviewed for >75 journals, including serving as guest editor on two special issues on psychedelics. Dr. Johnson has reviewed grants for the NIH, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Military, and multiple governments outside of the US. He was a standing member of the Addictions Risks and Mechanisms (ARM) NIH study section for 5 years. He has been invited to present his research in over a dozen countries.

Dr. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Oregon University and earned his PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Vermont. He served as President of the International Society for Research on Psychedelics in 2020, the first scientific society dedicated to quantitative research on psychedelics and one he played a role in founding. In 2019, Dr. Johnson also served as President of the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division of the American Psychological Association. 

Dr. Johnson has been interviewed about psychedelics and other drugs by many newspapers, TV and radio programs, and podcasts around the world. These include interviews by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, CNN, NPR, Fox News, Fox Business News, the BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Vogue, Washingtonian, Scientific American, Nature, the Lex Fridman Podcast, the Huberman Lab Podcast, Big Think, and by Michael Pollan in his best-selling book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.