Harvard Funds Psychedelic-Assisted Cancer Research

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Harvard University recently announced the recipients of its psychedelic studies funding program, one of which will study the experience of cancer patients who underwent psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

The study, to be conducted by Dana-Faber Cancer Institute will examine the experience of advanced cancer patients who are undergoing psilocybin-assisted therapy trials. Specifically how the psychedelic experience can aid with symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

It will be spearheaded by Yvan Beaussant from Dana-Faber as well as Sara Fragione, Isabel Kristan, and Kabir Nigam. 

Diving Into A Spectrum Of Psychedelic Topics

The research is one of 16 projects funded by the Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture, an interdisciplinary collaboration which includes the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Divinity School. 

Other recipients of the fund include an animated film exploring psychedelic use in later life (‘Gray-Tripping’), an undergraduate research on a CIA-funded 1956 expedition to Mexico to collect psychotropic mushrooms and a documentary about five people’s journey treating their medical and mental conditions through altered states of consciousness (‘Unconscious Medicine’). 

“Psychedelics are still often associated with the 1960s countercultures, but they have been recurrent in human experience, all across the world and throughout history,” said Bruno Carvalho, interim director of the Mahindra Humanities Center. “This first funding cycle reflects the exciting diversity of approaches to the study of psychedelics today, as well as our goal of fostering collaborations between different fields.”

The Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture was formed in 2023 after receiving a $16 million gift from the Gracias Family Foundation. According to their website, its goal is to ‘transform the psychedelics research landscape by producing cutting-edge scholarship and convening faculty, students, and experts to engage in discussion around their far-reaching implications.’

In addition to funding these projects, the organization will also be collaborating with the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School to hold a few major events in the summer. 

In June it will host ‘The Law and Policy of Psychedelic Medicine’, a conference which will bring together to discuss legal, ethical, and policy topics surrounding the challenges and opportunities resulting from the increased clinical research, private investment, and political interest in psychedelic medicines.

Then at the end of July there will be the Psychedelic Bootcamp 2024, described as ‘intensive training on legal, ethical, and policy issues surrounding psychedelics in medicine and society.’

Click here for a full list of all recipients.

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