2020: Matthew W. Johnson

Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., has broad expertise in psychoactive drugs, addiction, and risk behavior. Early research contributed to the recognition that delay discounting, or the devaluation of future consequences, is a fundamental behavioral process relevant to addiction. His early research also validated methods and developed analytic techniques that have since become widely adopted in delay discounting research. He has conducted tobacco/nicotine research throughout his career, determining the role of nicotine and nonpharmacological factors in tobacco use and addiction. This includes recent research on e-cigarettes and current research funded by the Food and Drug Administration using behavioral economics to evaluate cigarettes with potentially modified risk. Applying behavioral economics to sexual risk behavior, Matt has conducted seminal research implicating delay discounting in condom use decisions. He published the first human research determining the effects of cocaine administration on sexual decision making and risk, providing important information for addressing the high rates of HIV among cocaine users. Matt is also a leading expert on the effects of psychedelic drugs and has conducted seminal work that has expanded basic and therapeutic interest in these compounds, including research suggesting potential therapeutic effects of psilocybin in cancer-related psychiatric distress and smoking cessation. He has conducted studies administering nearly all classes of psychoactive drugs. Matt has published 119 articles and chapters including studies on cocaine, tobacco/nicotine, methamphetamine, alcohol, psilocybin, dextromethorphan, salvinorin A, GHB, cannabis, opioids, benzodiazepines, and cathinone-like compounds (“bath salts”). He has been internationally sought as a science communicator on psychoactive drugs and addiction, interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, CBS's 60 Minutes, Fox Business Network, the BBC, National Public Radio including Morning Edition and The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Labyrint (a public television show in the Netherlands), The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, the Daily Mail, USA Today, CBS News, The Baltimore Sun, The Atlantic, the Washingtonian, Psychology Today, Scientific American, and Nature, among others. Matt was quoted and his research was described 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.


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