Skip Navigation

Find a Doctor

Find a Researcher

Researchers

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.

Matthew Wayne Johnson, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Expertise

Addiction Medicine, Drug Abuse Research, Drug Dependence

Research Interests

Human behavior change, especially in the context of addiction recovery; Behavioral economics of drug consumption and addiction; Delay discounting (the devaluation of future consequences) and addiction; Delay discounting and HIV sexual risk behavior; Drug administration studies in humans to characterize abuse liability, reinforcing effects, effects on decision making, and subjective effects; Therapeutic effects of the psychedelic compound psilocybin; Psychopharmacology of psilocybin, salvinorin A, and other psychedelics/hallucinogens ...read more

Background

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins, is an expert on psychedelics, other drugs, and addiction. He has conducted research in behavioral pharmacology for >20 years and with psychedelics for >15 years. Matt published psychedelic risk and safety guidelines in 2008, helping to resurrect human psychedelic research. He published the first research on psychedelic treatment of tobacco addiction in 2014, and the largest study of psilocybin in treating cancer distress in 2016. His 2018 review of psilocybin abuse liability recommended placement in Schedule-IV upon potential medical approval. He has personally guided >100 psychedelic sessions. Matt also conducts behavioral economic research on drug use, addiction, and sexual risk. He conducted seminal research indicating delay discounting, or the devaluation of future consequences, is a fundamental behavioral process underlying addiction. He has applied other economic concepts, such as demand analysis, to understand drug use and other risk behavior, including current research informing the FDA on tobacco regulation. Matt published the first study in humans finding that administering cocaine increases sexual desire and sexual risk, providing a critical link between cocaine use and HIV/STI risk. He has published studies on nearly all psychoactive drugs classes, and is the 2019 President of the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division of the American Psychological Association. He is also President-Elect of the International Society for Research on Psychedelics, playing a lead role in founding this organization. Matt has been interviewed widely about drugs, addiction, and risk behavior, including by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BBC, 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox Business News, NPR, CBS News, and NBC News. Matt and his research were featured in an episode of Breakthrough on the National Geographic Channel, produced by Ron Howard, and in Michael Pollan's best-selling book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

...read more

Titles

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes

Education

Degrees

  • Ph.D., University of Vermont (Vermont) (2004)
  • B.S., Eastern Oregon University (Oregon) (1999)

Additional Training

  • M.A., University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, (2002)
  • Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland / Human Behavioral Pharmacology (2007)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins, is an expert on psychedelics, other drugs, and addiction. He has conducted research in behavioral pharmacology for >20 years and with psychedelics for >15 years. Matt published psychedelic risk and safety guidelines in 2008, helping to resurrect human psychedelic research. He published the first research on psychedelic treatment of tobacco addiction in 2014, and the largest study of psilocybin in treating cancer distress in 2016. His 2018 review of psilocybin abuse liability recommended placement in Schedule-IV upon potential medical approval. He has personally guided >100 psychedelic sessions. Matt also conducts behavioral economic research on drug use, addiction, and sexual risk. He conducted seminal research indicating delay discounting, or the devaluation of future consequences, is a fundamental behavioral process underlying addiction. He has applied other economic concepts, such as demand analysis, to understand drug use and other risk behavior, including current research informing the FDA on tobacco regulation. Matt published the first study in humans finding that administering cocaine increases sexual desire and sexual risk, providing a critical link between cocaine use and HIV/STI risk. He has published studies on nearly all psychoactive drugs classes, and is the 2019 President of the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division of the American Psychological Association. He is also President-Elect of the International Society for Research on Psychedelics, playing a lead role in founding this organization. Matt has been interviewed widely about drugs, addiction, and risk behavior, including by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BBC, 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox Business News, NPR, CBS News, and NBC News. Matt and his research were featured in an episode of Breakthrough on the National Geographic Channel, produced by Ron Howard, and in Michael Pollan's best-selling book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

Lab

In my Behavioral Economics laboratory, we apply behavioral and economic principles to understand a variety of topics related to drug use and risk behavior. This included the effects of drugs, such as cocaine, alcohol, and methamphetamine, on decision making relevant to sexual risk behavior. It also includes behavioral economic research relevant to the regulation of tobacco and other nicotine products such as e-cigarettes.

I am also Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, where we conduct both basic research and therapeutic studies with psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds. I am principal investigator on a line of research examining psilocyibn as a smoking cessation medication, as well as upcoming studies testing psilocybin in the treatment of opioid addiction and PTSD.

Technology Expertise Keywords

Psychedelics, addiction, behavioral pharmacology, nicotine, behavioral economics, sexual risk behavior

Selected Publications

Johnson, M.W., Johnson, P.S., Rass, O., Pacek, L.R. (2017) Behavioral economic substitutability of e-cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes, and nicotine gum. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31, 851-860

Johnson, M.W., Garcia-Romeu, A.P., Cosimano, M.P., Griffiths, R.R. (2014). Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28, 983-92

Johnson, M.W., Bruner, N.R (2012). The Sexual Discounting Task: HIV risk behavior and the discounting of delayed sexual rewards in cocaine dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 123, 15-21.

Johnson, M.W., MacLean, K.A., Reissig, C.J., Prisinzano, T.E., Griffiths, R.R. (2011). Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa-opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115, 150-5

Johnson, M.W., Richards, W.A., Griffiths, R.R. (2008). Human hallucinogen research: Guidelines for safety. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22, 603-620.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus
5510 Nathan Shock Drive
Behavioral Biology Research Center
Baltimore, MD 21224 map
Phone: 410-550-0056
Fax: 410-550-0030

Email me

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Award for Effective Presentation of Behavior Analysis in the Mass Media, 2020, Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis
  • Journal of Psychopharmacology Prize, for the manuscript “Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction.” This award recognizes the manuscript that received the highest level of citations of all original research articles published in Journal of Psychopharmacology in the 2014 volume., Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2018
  • Brady Award, for the manuscript “Opportunity costs of reward delays and the discounting of hypothetical money and cigarettes.” This award recognizes the manuscript that received the most citations in the previous 3 years, Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2018
  • Fellow status; Recognizing evidence of unusual and outstanding contribution or performance in the field of psychology, American Psychological Association, 2016
  • Early Career Impact Award; Recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior, Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and Association for Behavior Analysis International, 2014
  • Young Psychopharmacologist Award, American Psychological Association Division 28: Substance Abuse and Psychopharmacology, 2011
  • Extramural Clinical Research Student Loan Repayment Program Award, National Institutes of Health, 2008 - 2011

Memberships

  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
  • International Society for Research on Psychedelics (ISRP)
  • International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers (ISGIDAR)

Professional Activities

  • 2019 President, Psychopharmacology & Substance Abuse Division (Division 28) of American Psychological Association (APA)
  • President-Elect, International Society for Research on Psychedelics (ISRP)

Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

60 Minutes segment explores psychedelics research at Johns Hopkins, The HUB, Johns Hopkins University (October 14, 2019)

Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Closer to Medicinal Use (It’s Not Just Your Imagination), New York Times (October 3, 2018)

Psilocybin Paves Path For Addiction Research At Johns Hopkins, WAMU (October 15, 2019)

Johns Hopkins opening a new psychedelic research center, studying use of ‘magic mushrooms’ and more, The Baltimore Sun (September 04, 2019)

Psychedelic Mushrooms Can Help Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, NBCDFW (March 8, 2019)

Should I try microdosing at work? The science behind the Silicon Valley brain hack, Mic (October 24, 2019)

Psychedelics' Role in Beating Alcoholism Illustrated in LSD, Psilocybin Study, Inverse (May 17, 2019)

Denver Votes on Whether to Decriminalize ‘Magic Mushrooms’ New York Times (May 7, 2019)

Real-time testing of drugs at music festivals shows ‘Molly’ often isn’t ‘Molly’, The Washington Post (July 11, 2017)

New Millennial Patterns of Cocaine Use May Benefit Future Generations, Inverse (August 22, 2019)

Does marijuana lead to violence? Experts say there’s no clear link, Politifact (September 4, 2019)

Nancy Grace says pot users 'shoot each other' and 'kill families', Politifact (January 24, 2014)

Is this you? Edit Profile
back to top button