Best Of Baltimore > Baltimore Living Winners


Best Scientist Winner:
Roland Griffiths

Published on 9/17/2008 in the Baltimore City Paper

A STUDY OF THE SPIRITUAL EFFECTS of hallucinogen psilocybin was bound to make the news, if only to give headline writers an excuse to exhume puns they haven’t used since the ’60s, but Roland Griffiths and his team at Johns Hopkins deserve credit for risking the study of a drug that brings with it a lot of cultural and legal baggage. Whatever therapeutic promise hallucinogens may have shown in early experiments were wiped away by Timothy Leary and the excesses of 1960s drug culture, along with the attendant backlash. But Griffiths, et al., with their 2006 study and a follow-up earlier this year, have taken the subject out of the dorm room and back into the laboratory, where we may be able learn a little more about the way the human brain functions. Whether the drug has any medical application or not, the Hopkins study and those like it step into a scientific vacuum that allowed for doubt and speculation on both sides of the debate.

Roland Griffiths won the “Best Scientist” award from the Baltimore City Paper. Griffiths and his team at John Hopkins were honored for the courage to study the spiritual benefits of psychedlic use and for bringing the research “out of the dorm room and back into the laboratory.”