Psychedelic Research Founders Discussion

Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Bob Jesse, David Nichols

At Psychedelic Science 2013, the founders of major psychedelic research institutes gathered together to participate in an open discussion with each other and the community about the role of psychedelics in science, medicine, culture, and spirituality.

Panelists include:
Rick Doblin, Founder & Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Amanda Feilding, Founder of The Beckley Foundation
Bob Jesse, Convenor of the Council on Spiritual Practices
David Nichols, Founder of the Heffter Research Institute

Moderated by Neal Goldsmith

Rick Doblin, PhD, 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 medical marijuana 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 34-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 develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for 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 three children.

Amanda Feilding is the founder and director of The Beckley Foundation (, which she set up in 1998, following a lifelong interest in consciousness research. In order to carry out the research, she has built up collaborative partnerships with leading scientists around the world, with whom she works on a wide range of projects investigating the neurophysiology, pharmacology and subjective effects of psychoactive substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, LSD and ‘legal highs’. Her research work elucidates the neuroscientific underpinnings of consciousness, investigates how psychoactive substances work and how consciousness may be enhanced, and explores new potential therapeutic applications. Read the transcripts from her opening remarks and her presentation about psychedelic research.

Bob Jesse is Convenor of the Council on Spiritual Practices (CSP; CSP's interest in non-ordinary states focuses on the betterment of well people, in contrast to the medical-model treatment of patients with psychiatric diagnoses. Through CSP, Bob was instrumental in forming the psilocybin research team at Johns Hopkins University, and he has co-authored three of its scientific papers. He also lead the writing of an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the União do Vegetal's use of a sacramental tea containing DMT, a controlled substance. A unanimous Court upheld the UDV’s right to its practice. Bob has long participated in the development of the Bay Area spiritual community that draws liberally from the non-creedal, non-hierarchical ways of the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends). His formal training is in electrical engineering and computer science.

David Nichols, PhD, is President, Co-Founder, and Director of Preclinical Research of Heffter Research Institute ( Dr. Nichols originally conceived of a privately funded Institute as the most effective mechanism for bringing research on psychedelic agents into the modern era of neuroscience. This vision led to the founding of the Heffter Research Institute in 1993. Until his retirement in June 2012, he served as the Robert C. and Charlotte P. Anderson Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy, and also as adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Among scientists, he is recognized as one of the foremost experts on the medicinal chemistry of hallucinogens. His high standards and more than four decades of research experience set the tone to ensure that rigorous methods and quality science are pursued by the Institute.

Watch more videos from Psychedelic Science 2013.

Also available on
Help translate and caption videos on