Mission and Vision

Mission and Vision

The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) is an academic center focused on psychedelic research, training, and public education. Founded in September of 2020, the center is overseen by a multidisciplinary group of UC Berkeley faculty and entirely funded through the generosity of donors. We are honored to acknowledge the support of: 

  • The Steve and Alex Cohen Foundation
  • David Fialkow
  • Tim Ferriss
  • MUD\WTR
  • Christiana and Kimbal Musk
  • Blake Mycoskie
  • Joe and Sandy Samberg
  • Dick Simon

We are administratively housed within the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and our faculty brings together researchers from across UC Berkeley.

Together, BCSP works to improve health and well-being for all through culturally informed psychedelic research; psychedelic facilitation training for religious, spiritual-care, and health-care professionals; and accessible, accurate, and reliable public education.

Focus Areas

Our work spans five main focus areas:

Our public education and journalism program produces evidence-based, objective journalism, discussions, and courses about psychedelics through reporting fellowships, online classes, and publicly accessible resources. 

Our research program employs psychedelics to better understand fundamental properties of the mind, brain, and body.

The training program offers a certificate in psychedelic facilitation that prepares  professionals working in a variety of fields to include psychedelics in their work.

BCSP is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across all of our programs. We will engage with a diverse array of leaders to help us understand the many perspectives on psychedelics and to help foster access and opportunity in our work.

BCSP also strives to honor the Indigenous principle of reciprocity. We recognize our interconnectedness with multiple social and cultural communities. We aim to give back to the long-standing communities that have served as stewards of plant and fungal medicines.

Disclaimer

As more people become interested in the potential benefits of psychedelics, many are asking questions about how to minimize risks while using these substances. Most well-known psychedelics remain illegal in the majority of jurisdictions around the world, including the United States. It is a criminal offense in the United States, punishable by imprisonment and/or fines, to manufacture, possess, dispense, or supply most psychedelics, with few exceptions (one of which is academic research if regulatory approval has been obtained in advance in writing from relevant government agencies). 

BCSP does not recommend or encourage use of psychedelics, or offer instructions in the use of psychedelics. As part of a commitment to risk reduction, BCSP has assembled resources including a group of experts to answer frequently asked questions about psychedelics, including physical and psychological safety considerations. However, these answers are being provided for informational purposes only.

BCSP does not provide medical or psychological advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information on this website does not constitute medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychological condition. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.  

BCSP does not provide legal advice. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice.  Seek the advice of an attorney with any questions you may have regarding the legality of psychedelics.

Neither BCSP, the Regents of the University of California, nor their officers, agents, or employees assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process described on this website. BCSP and the Regents of the University of California disclaim any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, that is incurred as a direct or indirect consequence of information contained on this site. 

Who We Are

Who We Are

The BCSP community includes scholars, educators, researchers, journalists, and other professionals, all devoted to promoting health and well-being for all through culturally informed psychedelic research and accessible, accurate, and reliable public education.


Leadership

Andrea Gomez

Andrea Gomez (Laguna Pueblo/Chicana) is an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. Her work aims to understand the instructive cues that sculpt patterns of brain activity. Her efforts led to the discovery of RNA-based programs critical for synaptic plasticity. The robust and widespread neural plasticity induced by psychedelics motivates the Gomez lab to decode the synaptic mechanisms that underlie cognitive flexibility. At BCSP, Andrea is committed to advancing research, education, and training programs that properly acknowledge Indigenous science from which present-day psychedelic practices stem.

Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center. His research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, and humility, as well as power, social class, and inequality. In his role at BCSP, he is interested in what the science of psychedelics can reveal about how mystical states change moral emotions while interrogating the underlying neurophysiology of these transformations and their benefits for health and well-being. Dacher is the author of several hundred scientific articles and several books; has won many research, teaching, and service awards; and has consulted for businesses and nonprofits.

Michael-Pollan

Michael Pollan

For more than thirty years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in our minds. He is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley and the author of eight books, including How to Change Your Mind, his 2018 account of the renaissance of scientific research into psychedelics. In July 2022, Netflix released a docuseries based on How to Change Your Mind, exploring the history and uses of substances including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and mescaline. Michael leads BCSP’s public-education program, the first effort from a public university to foster a well-informed, nuanced understanding of psychedelics.

David Presti

David Presti

David Presti has taught neurobiology and psychology at UC Berkeley for over thirty years, with the history, psychological value, and known neurobiology of psychedelics as important parts of his instructional curriculum. He has also worked to shift educational dialogue and public policy related to psychedelics. For more than a decade he worked in the clinical treatment of addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. He also teaches neuroscience and converses about science with Buddhist monastics in India, Bhutan, and Nepal. David sees BCSP as poised to contribute innovative investigations related to psychedelics as probes of the nature of mind and to explore the nexus between physical science and spirituality.

Michael Silver

Michael Silver

Michael Silver is a professor in the School of Optometry and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley, and is the director of BCSP. Research in the Silver laboratory focuses on the brain mechanisms of visual perception, attention, and learning. His team seeks to better understand how the brain actively constructs representations of the visual environment by using a combination of perceptual, brain imaging, computational modeling, and pharmacological techniques. Although Michael has been conducting pharmacological studies in humans for fifteen years, the initial studies as part of BCSP will be the first in his lab to involve psychedelic compounds. Following decades of suppression of research on the effects of psychedelic drugs in human subjects, he is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the renaissance of psychedelic research and to conduct experiments that shine light on the mysteries of the mind and brain.

Tina Trujillo

Tina Trujillo is an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Education, where she has researched and taught about the politics of education; policy analysis; epistemology; and the links among education, democracy, and social justice. Her current interests focus on the connections between nature and well-being, as well as the tensions and commonalities among scientific, spiritual, and Indigenous ways of knowing. Tina serves as Faculty Director of the BCSP Certificate Program, where she conducts ethnographic research and an evaluation of the program. She is interested in understanding how this training can be diverse and inclusive of historically underserved communities, how it can serve to identify best practices in the professional preparation of psychedelic facilitators, and how it may advance the use of psychedelics as tools for mending humans’ relationships with the broader natural community.


Staff

Imran Khan

Imran Khan

Imran Khan is executive director of BCSP. He works closely with the faculty on strategy and manages the BCSP team. Prior to joining BCSP, Imran served as CEO of the British Science Association and as head of public engagement for Wellcome, the world’s third-largest philanthropic foundation. He has a BA in biology from the University of Oxford, a MSc in science communication from Imperial College London, and a MBA from Bayes Business School. Imran lives on a floating home and spends his free time trail running, rock climbing, gaming, enjoying science fiction, and trying to make the perfect daal.

Patrick Gutteridge

Patrick Gutteridge is the senior director of development for the Berkeley Brain Initiative, which includes BCSP, within the Principal Gifts and Strategic Initiatives Berkeley Development team. Previously, Patrick co-led interdisciplinary life sciences fundraising efforts at Stanford. After serving as chief of staff to the principal and vice chancellor of McGill University, he created the university’s  successful program of engagement and philanthropy across the Western United States and Western Canada.


Journalism

Jane C Hu

Jane C. Hu

Jane C. Hu is head writer of The Microdose, a newsletter about the science, business, culture and public policy surrounding psychedelics. She is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in publications like Undark Magazine, Slate, The Guardian, High Country News, WIRED, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, National Geographic, The Atlantic, and Science. Before becoming a journalist, she earned a PhD in psychology from UC Berkeley.

Malia Wollan

Malia Wollan is editor in chief of journalism projects at BCSP and director of the UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Public Radio, New York Magazine, Fast Company,The Associated Press,PBS’s Frontline/World, and elsewhere.


Research

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson MD, MSc, is an assistant clinical professor and psychiatrist at UCSF/Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. He has conducted observational and clinical research on the effects of psychedelics and other drugs for over a decade, including a 2018 open-label pilot study of psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralization in older men who are long-term AIDS survivors. His research interests focus on the development of novel treatments for psychological distress in patients with serious medical illness. He is a clinical investigator at BCSP and is excited about the opportunity for interdisciplinary research that considers theological and religious scholarship in interpreting psychedelic experiences.

Catriona Miller

Catriona Miller is a clinical program project manager at both UCSF and UC Berkeley, with several years’ experience conducting neuroscience research and managing and coordinating neuroscience groups. She has spent the last few years working primarily on clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds. Her experience is in translational neuroscience research, with an interest in investigating the neural circuitry underlying psychiatric illnesses, such as addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. At BCSP, she helps with study coordination, site and infrastructure set-up, regulatory and compliance oversight, study design and implementation, and maintaining protocol adherence.

Jennifer Mitchell

Jennifer Mitchell, PhD, is the deputy associate chief of staff for research and development at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and associate professor at the neurology and psychiatry departments at UCSF, where she oversees a research program focused on understanding the neural mechanisms responsible for impulsivity and addiction in relation to stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma, and on developing novel treatment strategies for these conditions. She has completed a number of human clinical trials and currently serves as principal investigator on a pivotal FDA-guided multisite clinical study assessing the effects of MDMA on post-traumatic stress disorder. At BCSP, she helps with regulatory and compliance oversight and with study design and implementation.

Sean Noah

Sean Noah, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in Michael Silver’s laboratory at UC Berkeley. He received his PhD at UC Davis, studying the neural mechanisms of visual attention and visual awareness. At BCSP, he uses neuroimaging and psychophysical methods to link psychedelics’ neurobiological effects in the human visual system to their profound perceptual activity. He aims to better understand psychedelics’ mechanisms of action and gain insight into the relationships between the brain and conscious perception. He’s excited about the potential of psychedelics as research tools in cognitive neuroscience and hopes to demonstrate that they can be used safely in basic research with healthy volunteers, complementing their promising therapeutic potential in clinical settings. 


Training

Susana Bustos

Susana Bustos

Susana Bustos, PhD, holds degrees in clinical psychology and music therapy from Chilean universities. Her clinical work, academic teaching, and research explore the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the integration of these processes in daily life. She has also delved into the entheogenic shamanic traditions from the Americas, working and advocating to build adequate bridges between these traditions and psychotherapy. From 2016 to 2020, Susana directed the Spiritual Emergence Network in the United States. Recently, she cofounded the School of Vegetalismo and Psychotherapy, offering education and clinical supervision on this interphase. Susana teaches in training programs for psychedelic-assisted therapy in the Bay Area and abroad.

Eve Ekman

Eve Ekman, Ph.D., MSW, is a teacher, writer, and contemplative social scientist developing and assessing the cultivation of compassion and emotional awareness. Eve has done qualitative research on burnout, the cultivation of compassion, purpose, and emotional awareness, psilocybin-assisted therapy, and Feeding Your Demons meditation practice. With the support of the Dalia Lama, Eve and her father collaborated on the Atlas of Emotion, an online tool for developing emotional awareness. Eve is the lead trainer for the Cultivating Emotional Balance training program, Well-Being and Mental Health Lead at Apple, Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UCB, and a Mind and Life Institute, fellow. At BCSP, Eve supports the training team in developing a contemplative science curriculum.

Kristina Hunter

Kristina Hunter

Kristina Hunter is a mindfulness-based somatic counselor and writer with a specialization in psychedelic integration. She has spent over fifteen years studying the transformative potential of expanded states of consciousness with Indigenous and mestizo practitioners from Central and South America. Additionally, she has been studying and practicing Buddhadharma with Tibetan and American teachers for the past two decades. Kristina’s work explores the intersection of psychology, plant medicine, and Buddhist contemplative practice. Kristina consults with clinicians on individualized approaches to psychedelic facilitation, with an emphasis on harm reduction, self-awareness, preparation, and integration.

Joody Marks

Joody Marks creates systems and strategy for organizations through artful collaboration and rigorous execution. She designs and implements operations to support the greatest impact of world-changing projects and initiatives with an interest in promoting equitable access to healing opportunities. Joody has a BA from UC Santa Cruz and serves on the Farm to Crag board of directors. She has been designing and developing experiential learning programs for over ten years, which has given her the opportunity to hone her skills in event planning, communications, project management, team building, and driving multidimensional projects to successful completion. She is deeply inspired by the potential of BCSP’s Certificate Program to impact the quality and accessibility of transformative health care.

Moana Meadow

Moana Meadow

Moana Meadow is a curriculum consultant focused on spiritual care and ethics in expanded states of consciousness. She completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at hospitals in California and Hawaii, and has worked as a hospice chaplain and spiritual director for over ten years. She was ordained as an interfaith minister at the Chaplaincy Institute, where she served as guest faculty and academic advisor until 2018. She served as Executive Director of a non-profit church in Sonoma County from 2020-2022. She has studied with indigenous elders in the United States and Mexico, and holds a BS from MIT, an MA from Boston University, and an MDiv from the Pacific School of Religion.

Mary Sanders

Mary Sanders, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and social justice advocate exploring transgenerational trauma with BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+, veterans, immigrants, refugees, and foster youth. Certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), Mary is also a somatic experiencing psychotherapist in training. Mary completed the CIIS CPTR program and trained with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies as well as the Ketamine Training Center. As a founding board member of the People of Color Psychedelic Collective, she works toward collective healing and justice in the context of psychedelics. Mary works in private practice at EMPATH Center and as a clinical social worker at the Veteran Affairs homeless programs in San Francisco. 

Tina Trujillo

Tina Trujillo

Tina Trujillo is an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Education, where she has researched and taught about the politics of education; policy analysis; epistemology; and the links among education, democracy, and social justice. Her current interests focus on the connections between nature and well-being, as well as the tensions and commonalities among scientific, spiritual, and Indigenous ways of knowing. Tina serves as Faculty Director of the BCSP Certificate Program, where she conducts ethnographic research and an evaluation of the program. She is also a member of BCSP leadership; read more about her here.

Joe Zamaria

Joseph Zamaria

Joseph Zamaria, PsyD, ABPP, is a licensed and board-certified clinical psychologist and an associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UCSF School of Medicine. At UCSF, he serves as a clinician and researcher in clinical trials examining the potential of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat a range of conditions. In addition, he is the associate program director for psychotherapy for the UCSF psychiatry residency, overseeing residents’ training in psychotherapy. Outside of his activities at UCSF, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology and serves on the advisory board of the Fireside Project. He is excited to develop and administer the psychotherapy training curriculum at BCSP.


Collaborators

Robin Carhart-Harris

Robin Carhart-Harris

Robin Carhart-Harris is head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London and director of the Psychedelics Division of Neuroscape at UCSF. After obtaining an MA in psychoanalysis from Brunel University London, Robin completed a PhD in psychopharmacology from the University of Bristol. At Imperial College London, he has designed and completed human brain imaging studies with LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and DMT; a clinical trial of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression; a double-blind randomized controlled trial comparing psilocybin with escitalopram for major depressive disorder; and a multimodal imaging study in healthy volunteers receiving psilocybin for the first time. In April 2019, Robin founded the Centre for Psychedelic Research, the first of its kind in the world.

Jack Gallant

Jack Gallant is the chancellor’s professor and class of 1940 chair at the University of California at Berkeley. He co-directs the Henry H. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center. Jack is affiliated with the departments of psychology, electrical engineering, and computer science, along with the programs in bioengineering, biophysics, neuroscience and vision science. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and did post-doctoral work at the California Institute of Technology and Washington University Medical School. His research program focuses on computational modeling of the human brain under naturalistic conditions.

Adam Gazzaley

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at UCSF, and the founder and executive director of Neuroscape at UCSF. Adam is cofounder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive, Sensync, and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has been a scientific advisor for over a dozen companies; filed patents including for the first video game cleared by the FDA; authored over 150 scientific articles; and delivered over 675 invited presentations around the world. He wrote and hosted the nationally televised PBS special The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley and coauthored the 2016 MIT Press book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award. He is the recipient of the 2015 Science Educator Award and the 2020 Global Gaming Citizen Honor.

Sam Shonkoff

Sam Shonkoff

Sam Shonkoff is the Taube Family assistant professor of Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His scholarship focuses on themes of revelation, embodiment, and interpretation in modern Jewish thought, as well as methods in the study of religion more broadly. He is co-editor with Ariel Evan Mayse of Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020) and the editor of Martin Buber: His Intellectual and Scholarly Legacy (Brill, 2018). His publications and lectures on psychedelics demonstrate how the field of religious studies offers critical frameworks for understanding the phenomenological, cultural, and hermeneutical complexities of psychoactive substances beyond reductionist concepts of “mysticism” and “religious experience.”


Advisors

Patty Debenham

Patty Debenham, PhD, is president of Debenham Social Impact. For BCSP, Patty led BCSP leadership to develop its very first strategic plan and served as the interim executive director. Before BCSP, she led the strategic plan for Nobel Prize winner and Berkeley faculty Jennifer Doudna’s Innovative Genomics Institute. As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, Patty created a public/private partnership with Coca-Cola and the world’s best solid waste and ocean scientists. She also created Too Precious to Wear with Tiffany & Co. to protect corals and increase revenue from sales of sustainable coral products. Patty completed her PhD in marine biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Gene Hightower

Gene Hightower

Gene Hightower is a lecturer in the UC Berkeley Psychology department and a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Social Interaction Laboratory. He has also taught in psychology departments at UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego and in the Native American Studies programs at UC Berkeley and Stanford. Gene is a licensed clinical psychologist who has spent most of his professional career working with vulnerable populations in mental health and substance abuse settings. He is descendant from the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek American Indians. The author of Counseling Native American Indians, Gene is a member of the Society of Indian Psychologists and serves as the spokesperson for their Good Relatives Initiative.

Ayise Jama Everett

Ayize Jama-Everett

Ayize Jama-Everett is a therapist, professor, theologian, filmmaker, and author, whose published books, including a graphic novel and a series of novels, blend Afrofuturism, science fiction, and speculative fiction. Ayize’s academic focus is the intersection between substance use and culture, particularly the cultures of the African diaspora. His current project is a documentary entitled A Table Of Our Own, about the role of Black people in the psychedelic movement. He serves on the boards of Psychedelics Today, The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, and Access to Doorways, a nonprofit dedicated to providing culturally responsive above-ground psychedelic treatment to queer BIPOC individuals.

Bob Jesse

Bob Jesse has been a quiet driving force behind the contemporary psychedelic renaissance. He was instrumental in forming the psilocybin research team at Johns Hopkins University and has coauthored several of its papers. He has led the drafting of numerous foundational documents, including the Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides in 1995; an amicus brief for the US Supreme Court in a successful religious liberty case in 2005; and a statement on Open Science, now signed by numerous leaders in the psychedelic field, in 2017. Bob studied electrical engineering and computer science at Johns Hopkins, consulted for AT&T Bell Labs, and worked at Oracle as a vice president of business development.

Mariavittoria Mangini

Mariavittoria Mangini

Mariavittoria Mangini, PhD, FNP, has written extensively on the impact of psychedelic experiences in shaping the lives of her contemporaries, and has worked closely with many of the most distinguished investigators in this field. She is one of the founders of the Women’s Visionary Council, a nonprofit organization that supports investigations into non-ordinary forms of consciousness and organizes gatherings of researchers, healers, artists, and activists whose work explores these states. For the last fifty years, she has been a part of the Hog Farm, a well-known communal family based in Berkeley and in Laytonville, California.

Contact and Giving

General Inquiries

BCSP conducts psychology and neuroscience research, but does not offer clinical treatment for mental health conditions. If you are seeking mental health care, please contact a licensed mental healthcare provider where you live. If you are having a medical emergency, please call “911” or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call or text “988” to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Please note that the BCSP is primarily an academic research, training, and education institution. Sadly, we cannot respond to every public inquiry or guarantee a response time.

We appreciate your interest and your patience.

For Media

For media inquiries only, please reach out to press.psychedelics@berkeley.edu. Please include your publication and deadline in the subject line.

For additional background, download our fact sheets on different aspects of psychedelics.

For Training

Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics Certificate Program will begin in September 2022. To be eligible, participants must be licensed mental healthcare providers or religious or spiritual care professionals.

Applications have closed for the 2022-2023 cycle.

Please use this form to communicate additional questions (that are not addressed in our FAQs) about the training program. We will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible.

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