December 5, 2022
Dear Friends with interest in psychedelics, spirituality, and human flourishing,
I’m writing to humbly invite you to join me in supporting an audacious, unique, and vitally important project to establish a world-class psychedelic research program in perpetuity to advance human flourishing and well-being.
My inspiration for wanting to establish what I now call my “final glidepath” project came directly out of revising my will after I received a completely unexpected Stage IV cancer diagnosis about a year ago (video message here).
The rationale for this project is based on my decades of meditation practice and my work with psychedelics. Many of us dearly want humankind to awaken with gratitude to the precious gift of awareness (i.e., sentience or consciousness). We know from research and experience that psychedelics can occasion profound awakenings that have substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. We also know that such experiences can produce enduring positive changes in prosocial attitudes and behavior, opening individuals to the realization that we are all in this together, with the attendant impulse toward mutual caretaking in service of human flourishing. Rigorous empirical research with psychedelics represents a uniquely powerful scientific tool for systematically understanding the nature and impact of these awakening experiences. I truly believe this line of research may ultimately be critical to the survival of our species.
The project is also unique in that it is entirely dependent on philanthropic support and, as an endowment, will be managed to grow over time and continue in perpetuity. Almost all current psychedelic research is focused on medical therapeutics in patients. While we can expect this therapeutic research to continue to grow, fueled by increasing commercial and NIH funding, there is virtually no support for what I believe to be the most consequential direction for future psychedelic research, namely the impact of psychedelic substances on broadly defined spirituality and well-being in healthy volunteers.
Shortly after conceiving of this project, I set the ultimate funding goal at $20 million to support the full salary of the endowed research professor along with funds sufficient for conducting a consequential world class empirical research program. On a personal note, although I do not have a large estate, I have bequeathed $1M to the endowment.
I am delighted to report that, to date, we have received pledges totaling about $14M. However, we are $6M short of the $20M target sufficient to support the full research program, including the costly psychedelic administration studies (as described in more detail here).
I am now humbly asking whether you will consider supporting the endowment in any amount you feel would be appropriate.
Here is a link to the endowment website which includes a 10-minute video message from me about the importance of the endowed psychedelic research program on spirituality and well-being and my personal reflections on mortality. The website provides detailed information about the endowment including:
- Background information about me and the first named recipient of the professorship
- The official Purpose and Intent statement
- A link to the signed Founder’s Agreement between me and Johns Hopkins that specifies the provisions that hold Johns Hopkins accountable for assuring that the endowment is used solely to support the Purpose and Intent of the endowment in perpetuity.
- Funding goals and cumulative funding status
- Donor recognition page: Donors who contribute $1000 or more and who do not choose to remain anonymous will be acknowledged on website. We warmly invite and deeply appreciate any gift at any level in support of this enduring research program to advance human flourishing.
Mike DeVito our Johns Hopkins Development Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org; 443-278-3174).and my dear friend Claudia Turnbull (email@example.com), who has been managing funding outreach, are available to answer questions about this project. Mike can also help answer other institutional or financial questions you may have.
Finally, on a personal note, my wife Marla and I have come to view my terminal cancer diagnosis as a call to further awaken with gratitude to the abiding mystery of consciousness and to celebrate the preciousness of life. I warmly invite you and others to join our celebration.
With love and respect,
Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D.
The Oliver Lee McCabe, III Professor in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness Director, Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Department of Neuroscience