Skip Navigation

Roland R. Griffiths

ROLAND R. GRIFFITHS, Ph.D, is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

For over 40 years Dr. Griffiths’ principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories has been on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. He is an international leader in psychopharmacology research, with a special emphasis on the pharmacology of drugs of abuse. He is the author of more than 400 scientific articles and book chapters and has made significant contributions to our understanding of a wide range of drugs, with a particular focus on sedative-hypnotics, caffeine, and psychedelic substances. He has been a consultant to national and international research and regulatory agencies, has received competitive grant awards from the National Institute of Health for over four decades, and has been the recipient of numerous awards from prominent scientific societies for his research contributions.

Among his major contributions to science, early in his career Dr. Griffiths conducted parallel lines of research in both the preclinical and clinical laboratories, which demonstrated cross species generality of the reinforcing, discriminative (i.e. subjective), and physical dependence producing effects of a range of drugs. This ultimately led to the development and adoption of world-wide use of standardized procedures in laboratory animals and humans for assessing the relative abuse potential of novel drugs. In another line of research, Dr. Griffiths showed that caffeine’s subjective and behavioral effects, reinforcement, and withdrawal symptoms occurred at much lower doses than had been previously appreciated. His caffeine research program played an instrumental role in the decision by the American Psychiatric Association to include the diagnosis of Caffeine Withdrawal and the research diagnosis of Caffeine Use Disorder in their most recent revision of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

A third significant line of research started 20 years ago with the first study in decades to rigorously evaluate the effects of a high dose of a classic psychedelic drug in healthy psychedelic-naïve participants. This study showed that, when administered to carefully screened and psychologically supported individuals, the psychedelic psilocybin produced substantial and enduring positive changes in moods, attitudes, and behavior. That 2006 publication, in combination with a series of subsequent studies of psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs conducted by Dr. Griffiths and colleagues, is widely credited with initiating a renaissance of research on psychedelic compounds. This work has had broad implications for developing new approaches to the treatment of a range of psychiatric conditions as well as for investigating the mind – the very nature of what it is to be a conscious, self-aware human being.