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UC Berkeley Launches Center for Psychedelic Science and Education

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The prestigious public university UC Berkeley announced the launch of the Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP), which operates in collaboration with faculty from UCSF and the Graduate Theological Union.

$1.25 million in seed funding from an unnamed donor will allow the Center to begin conducting research on psychedelics, with early studies evaluating psilocybin.

The Center will also have a public education element, seeking to enhance general understanding of this fast-paced space. One element of this outreach program will be a website with content covering scientific, political, business and cultural developments pertaining to psychedelics.

Portrait of UC Berkeley neuroscientist Michael Silver with images of brains in the background. Photo by Elena Zhukova.
Michael Silver is the neurosicentist heading-up the BCSP. Photo credit: Elena Zhukova.

Co-founders include Michael Pollan, who has provided a great deal to the public consciousness regarding psychedelics via his 2018 bestseller, How to Change Your Mind, among other works.

Research undertaken at the Center is hoped to complement clinical studies at other institutions. “Some of these studies have produced striking results in cases that are otherwise resistant to more conventional medical treatment. This suggests that psychedelic compounds may offer new hope for people suffering from these disorders,” said Michael Silver, the Center’s director.

Somehwat uniquely, the Center will also train spiritual guides or facilitators, who will support volunteer research participants in undergoing psychedelic experiences. This will largely take place via collabroation with an indepdendent consortium of theological institutes and religious schools in the Bay Area, the Graduate Theological Institue.

As such, it’s clear the Center has broad-based ambitions to cover research, public education and the training of psychedelic experience facilitators.

The new centre will join other similar research institutes at prestigious Universities and Colleges across the world, including Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and Johns Hopkins’ Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research.

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