NIH Psilocybin Research Speaker Series (Overview)


Psilocybin is the natural active compound found in more than 200 species of fungi, more commonly referred to as ”magic mushrooms.” Psilocybin is converted by the body to psilocin, which has hallucinogenic mind-altering properties. These naturally occurring mushrooms have been used anthropologically worldwide by indigenous cultures for centuries in the context of religious or spiritual healing ceremonies. Psilocybin is currently a Schedule I substance under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Schedule 1 classification defines chemicals or substances that, currently, have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Advances in clinical trials, however, are researching psilocybin to treat cancer related depression, for example, and moreover for its potential medicinal application in treating a range of severe psychiatric disorders, such as: major depressive disorder, treatment resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders, as well as anorexia. To date, FDA granted two breakthrough therapy designations for psilocybin, one for treatment resistant depression in 2018, and a second for major depressive disorder in 2019.

The Trans-NIH Integrative Medicine Course Organizing Committee is hosting a first-ever "NIH Psilocybin Research Speaker Series" from April 22-June 10, 2021. This time-sensitive, comprehensive Speaker Series will bring together the world’s leading experts, including scientists, physician-scientists, clinical psychologists, and oncologists. Additionally, in order to provide a comprehensive discussion, there will be representation from additional disciplines engaged in this rapidly growing field of research, including experts representing patient advocacy, law, government science policy, as well as regulatory policy.


  • Education: provide time-sensitive and evidence-based scientific information, utilizing expert speakers from academia, government, and the community.
  • Research: assess the current state of the science, identify research gaps and opportunities, regarding future research needs for investigation among diverse research communities.

For further information or questions about the Psilocybin Research Speaker Series, contact: Dan Xi, Ph.D., IM Course Director (,  Ann Berger, M.D. ( and David Shurtleff, Ph.D. (

The planning committee:

Subject matter expert: Sean J. Belouin, Pharm.D. (SAMHSA/HHS)

Trans-NIH Integrative Medicine Training Course Organizing Committee:

Ann Berger, M.D. (CC/NIH)

Terry Moody, Ph.D. (NCI/NIH)

David Shurtleff, Ph.D. (NCCIH/NIH)

Dan Xi, Ph.D. (NCI/NIH)

Farah Zia, M.D. (NCI/NIH)