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Dennis McKenna, Ethnopharmacologist, author, and psychedelic expert

Dennis McKenna is a pioneering ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist (herbal medicine), lecturer, and author. His work is focused on the interdisciplinary study of pharmacognosy (medicinal drugs obtained from plants or other natural sources), ethnopharmacology, ethnobotany, and natural hallucinogens.

Dennis's research has focused on ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon where he has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork.

Dennis is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, a nonprofit organization researching the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.

A key organizer of the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical ayahuasca investigation by the Brazilian União do Vegetal (UDV), he was previously a director of ethnopharmacology at Shaman Pharmaceuticals. He was also senior research pharmacognosist for the Aveda Corporation and senior research scientist with the Natural Health Products Research Group at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). He was recently a principal investigator in an Amazonian ethnomedicine project by the Stanley Medical Research Institute for treatment of schizophrenia and cognitive deficits.

Dennis is currently founder of Symbio Life Sciences and an independent research consultant to the phytomedicine and nutraceutical industry. He serves on the advisory board of the American Botanical Council and the Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica. Most recently, he has incorporated a new nonprofit, the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy.

Formerly on the editorial board of Phytomedicine and former editor-in-chief of the Haworth Herbal Press, he is author or coauthor of more than 35 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, and Alternative and Complementary Therapies. His books include Botanical Medicines: The Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements with Kenneth Jones and Kerry Hughes, The Invisible Landscape with his brother Terence, and The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, on their explorations of psilocybin.

In collaboration, he organized the 2017 conference, The Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 years of Research, commemorating the original 1967 gathering in San Francisco. A longtime senior lecturer at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, Dennis speaks internationally.

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