Projects

Tim Ferriss’s personal projects that have informed the Saisei Foundation

Neuroracer

Neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley’s first study on how video gaming can enhance cognitive control in older adults.

The findings suggest that the aging brain may be more robustly plastic than previously thought, allowing for cognitive enhancement using different strategies. The research ended up on the cover of Nature. It was also featured in The New York Times, Fortune, and Forbes.

Psilocybin-assisted therapy

Johns Hopkins pilot study of psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat treatment-resistant, major depressive disorder.

This randomized clinical trial found that psilocybin-assisted therapy was efficacious in producing large, rapid, and sustained antidepressant effects in patients with major depressive disorder. This study, partially crowdfunded on CrowdRise back in 2016, was the most discussed article in JAMA Psychiatry in 2021, with an Almetric score 70% higher than the next most cited article. The press release can be found here. The study featured heavily in the cover story of Newsweek in October 2021.

Mamakunapa

Creation of the first Indigenous women’s reserve (“Mamakunapa”) in the northwest Amazon.

The 18-hectare Civil Society Nature Reserve “Mamakunapa” is part of the 52-hectare “Chagra de la Vida” that is privately owned by ASOMI, the Association of Indigenous Women of Traditional Medicine.

Since 2004, ASOMI has linked women from five Indigenous groups—Inga, Kamentsá, Siona, Kofán, and Koreguaje—in a shared mission to revitalize Indigenous knowledge and practices of medicinal plants, traditional garden keeping, artisanship, women’s self-care, and ecological stewardship.

Trip Of Compassion Documentary

I found Trip of Compassion several years ago, when I was sent a link to a screener. The film had been broadcast once on Israeli television, but it was unavailable online or anywhere else. This documentary had such a huge impact on me that I decided to fly to Tel Aviv, meet the filmmakers, and offer to help launch the film digitally worldwide for free. Everything I am doing for this film is 100% pro-bono, and all proceeds go to the filmmakers. Here is one quote from an actual patient in the film that sums it up: “I felt like I went through 15 years of psychological therapy in one night.”

As you will see firsthand, if the therapy is well designed, true rebirth and transformation can happen in a matter of weeks and not years. This is also the first feature documentary to show actual MDMA-assisted session footage (to our knowledge), to which the patients consented because of the incredible results they experienced. Filmed at the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center in Israel, Trip of Compassion provides a rare glimpse into a treatment process that can restore optimism and even the will to live. You can find the trailer here.

Notable firsts funded by the Saisei Foundation include

The Centre for Psychedelics Research at Imperial College

This became the world’s first dedicated centre/center for psychedelic research and focuses on the action and clinical use of psychedelics, with a particular focus on researching the treatment of depression.

You can read the press release here. The centre has been featured in The New York Times and many other media.

Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research

This became the world’s largest and the US’s first psychedelic research center. Among other things, researchers there will be investigating the effectiveness of psychedelics as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa, and alcohol use in people with major depression.

You can find the press release here. The New York Times wrote an article about the center and separately profiled Tim Ferriss about the project. Scientific American, Forbes, and The Washington Post covered the center as well. You can find an audio recording of the press conference announcing the launch here.

The Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation

The Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

POPLAR is the first academic initiative focused on psychedelics law and policy, positioned to be a global leader for research and education in this space.

You can find the announcement here. You can read Fox News’s coverage about POPLAR here and VICE’s article here.

The Ferriss – UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship

The Ferriss – UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship offers fifteen $10,000 reporting grants per year to journalists reporting in-depth print and audio stories on the science, policy, business, and culture of this new era of psychedelics.

In addition to underwriting individual stories, the fellowship aims to establish and nurture a new generation of journalists covering the frontlines of this rapidly changing field. It will be overseen by bestselling author Michael Pollan. You can read the announcement here.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for MAPS’ Phase 3 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials for PTSD

This is the first time that any psychedelic/entactogen combined with therapy has progressed into FDA-approved Phase 3 trials, with esketamine/Spravato approved for depression without therapy. You can find the MAPS study in Nature Medicine. In this Phase 3 trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, 88% of participants who received MDMA in conjunction with trauma-focused therapy experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms, and 67% of participants no longer met criteria for a PTSD diagnosis at the two-month follow-up (data from the one-year follow-up is not yet available).

In MAPS’ Phase 2 research, 56% of subjects no longer met criteria for a PTSD diagnosis at the two-month follow-up. And at the one-year follow-up, that had increased to 67%. This is unusual and worth noting. The results were durable, and people had learned how to help heal themselves gradually over time. MAPS has also conducted a longer-term follow-up study of some Phase 2 subjects (on average over 3 ½ years since treatment ended), again showing durability of results and a slight further average decline in PTSD symptoms.

Many participants reported MDMA-assisted therapy helped them address the root cause of their trauma for the first time. 

The New York Times, Scientific AmericanThe Guardian and other media have covered the results. You can find the press release here

The Dog Aging Project

The Dog Aging Project is a scientific initiative to help companion dogs and people live longer, healthier lives together. More than 32,000 companion dogs and their owners are already part of the Dog Aging Project. Led by scientists at the University of Washington and Texas A&M University, the research team includes more than 70 researchers and veterinarians from more than 20 academic institutions around the country.

Important to the Saisei Foundation, the Dog Aging Project is also conducting a double-blind, placebo-controlled veterinary clinical trial of the medicine rapamycin, which at low doses has been shown to extend lifespan in laboratory animals. The trial is called TRIAD, an acronym for Test of Rapamycin in Aging Dogs. Read the full announcement here. This follow-up announcement also underscores some of the leverage of this project: Dog Aging Project, a resource for scientists in many fields.

Microdosing with LSD Research

Microdosing with LSD research under the direction of Dr. Suresh Muthukumaraswamy at The University of Auckland.

Potential therapeutic implications of this study include future clinical trials to investigate microdosed psychedelics as a standalone treatment or as an augmentation of psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, addiction, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and palliative care. This is the first study of its kind to investigate microdosing where participants microdose at home rather than in supervised laboratory settings.

The Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC) at Colorado State University

The Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), an academic institution housed at Colorado State University, is focused on integrating transformative science, education, and outreach to minimize conflict and facilitate coexistence between humans and carnivores.

Training for Psychiatrists in Psychedelic Medicine

Physician-scientists at three major U.S. medical schools (Yale School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and NYU Grossman School of Medicine) will collaborate to develop a curriculum to train psychiatrists in the practice of psychedelic medicine.

As psychedelic-assisted therapies advance toward approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the need to train psychiatrists in these new treatment modalities has become increasingly urgent.

Special thanks to Carey and Claudia Turnbull for quarterbacking this and to the institutions jointly developing the program: the Yale University Program for Psychedelic Science, the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, and the NYU Langone Health Center for Psychedelic Medicine. The project has been covered in Business Insider

SA College for Tourism Tracker Academy

There are only a handful of master trackers remaining in Africa. Tracker Academy is the only formally accredited tracker training institute in the world, co-founded by Shaangan master tracker Renias Mhlongo and senior tracker Alex van den Heever.

They train disadvantaged Indigenous peoples to become professional wildlife trackers for the conservation industry in Africa. In so doing, they are preserving the ancient knowledge that has developed in Africa over millennia, as well as conserving fauna, flora, and entire ecosystems. Their graduate deployment success rate is an astonishing 93%.

Their training programme is accredited by CATHSSETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) and endorsed by FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa). Tracker Academy is the first tracker training school to achieve this distinction in South Africa.

Other notable projects and institutions funded by the Saisei Foundation include

Psilocybin-assisted Group Therapy for Demoralization in Long-term AIDS Survivors

Extending and expanding the study titled “Psilocybin-assisted Group Therapy for Demoralization in Long-term AIDS Survivors.”

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for the Capstone Challenge

The Capstone Challenge was a fundraising effort to fund the final research required to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It raised $30 million in the span of six months. You can read the press release here. The Capstone Challenge was covered by The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Quartz, and other media outlets.

The Neuroscape Psychedelics Division

Neuroscape is a translational neuroscience center at UCSF engaged in technology creation and scientific research to better assess and optimize brain function of both healthy and impaired individuals. The Neuroscape Psychedelics Division is dedicated to advancing the field of psychedelic science and medicine through multilevel research covering basic to translational to clinical science.

The PSFC’s (Psychedelic Science Funder Collaborative) efforts to support Oregon’s psilocybin therapy program

PSFC’s priorities include ensuring Oregon’s psilocybin therapy program provides a high-quality model for psychedelic healing in a non-prescription context that could be replicated in other states.

Fireside Project

Fireside Project’s Psychedelic Peer Support Line offers free, confidential peer support by phone and text message to people in the midst of psychedelic experiences, people holding space for others who are in the midst of psychedelic experiences, and people integrating past psychedelic experiences.

The line is available daily from 3 PM to 3 AM PT at 62-FIRESIDE (623-473-7433).

The Fireside Project has been featured in Rolling StoneEsquireForbesTechcrunch, Mashable, and others.

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