Late in 2018, while researching a story about philanthropy and psychedelic medicine for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, I drove up to Baltimore to visit Roland Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. Griffiths was then and remains today one of the world’s leading researchers of psychedelics. Our conversation was one of a number that helped persuade me to make a late-in-life course change: I shifted the focus of my reporting from philanthropy to the business, politics, culture and science of psychedelics. Psychedelics is the most exciting story I’ve covered since the rise of the Internet.
Griffiths, I’m certain, has changed the lives of many others–students, researchers, the philanthropists who kept research into psychedelics alive when neither corporate nor government funding was available. In a story that I just published to Medium, I make the claim that he’s done more than anyone to bring about the mainstreaming of psychedelics.
His long career is now winding down. He’s 76, and has Stage IV colon cancer. The cancer has responded well to treatment.
But, instead of fading quietly into the background, Griffiths is sharing the experience of facing death and seeking to establish a program at Johns Hopkins that will carry on his explorations of psychedelics, spirituality and well-being.
He says: “Unlikely as it may seem, my wife and I have experienced my diagnosis as a gift, a blessing, really, Today, I’m more awake, alive and grateful than I have ever been before.”
You can read my story about Roland Griffith here on Medium.