Professor Dennis J. McKenna
McKenna, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor,
Center for Spirituality & Healing,
University of Minnesota,
Academic Health Center.
His professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He earned his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. He received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine.
Dennis coauthored Botanical Medicines: The Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements and The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. His papers include Human Psychopharmacology of Hoasca, A Plant Hallucinogen Used in Ritual Context in Brazil, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in South American hallucinogenic plants: Tryptamine and β-carboline constituents of Ayahuasca, and Clinical investigations of the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca: rationale and regulatory challenges.
He joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology in 1990, and relocated to Minnesota in 1993 to join the Aveda Corporation as Senior Research Pharmacognosist. He joined the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota in 2001. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and serves on the advisory board of nonprofit organizations in the fields of ethnobotany and botanical medicines. He was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, an international biomedical study of ayahuasca used by indigenous people and syncretic religious groups in Brasil.
Dennis recently completed a project, funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute, to investigate Amazonian ethnomedicines for the treatment of schizophrenia and cognitive deficits. At the Heffter Research Institute, he continues his focus on the therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines derived from nature and used in indigenous ethnomedical practices.
Watch From Neurons to Nirvana — The Great Medicines – Part 2, Terence and Dennis McKenna — Cognition Factor: True Hallucinations, Terence McKenna: Appreciating Imagination – 1/28, and Terence McKenna ~ TV Is A Drug.