Dr. Johannes Ramaekers is a researcher and professor of Psychopharmacology and Behavioral Toxicology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Dr. Ramaekers earned his Ph.D. from Maastricht in 1998 with a dissertation entitled “Behavioral Toxicity of Medicinal Drugs.” Upon graduating with his doctorate, he taught as an assistant professor in Maastrict’s Department of Neurocognition until 2006. For the following three years, he was an associate professor in the university’s Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology. From 2007 until 2012, Dr. Ramaekers directed that department and worked as the assistant treasurer of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs & Traffic Safety (ICADTS). Dr. Ramaekers has served on the faculty of the Center for Studies on Law in Action at Indiana University since 2004. In 2009, he began his current professorship.
With more than 200 publications to his name, Dr. Ramaekers has contributed to a breadth and depth of research on how psychedelic drugs impact human functioning and behavior. In an interview with Sr. Science Writer Ruairi J Mackenzie of Technology Networks, Dr. Ramaekers stated, “we’re looking to establish whether these compounds are safe to be used on a daily basis to find evidence for therapeutic applications, as well as the mechanisms that actually underlie these behavioral changes.” His work has helped to determine the safety profiles of various substances through decades worth of placebo-controlled experiments. Extensive research by Dr. Ramaekers on motorist impairment “provides a strong scientific rationale for international harm classification systems of medicinal drug effects on driver safety,” in the words of his academic profile.
Dr. Ramaekers’ research on psychedelics has, to date, principally focused on cannabis, MDMA, and LSD. Studies by Dr. Ramaekers and his colleagues have investigated the neurocognitive impacts of cannabis,1 including how intoxication affects users’ driving ability,2 tolerance,3 and memory.4 They have also explored how MDMA influences users’ impulsivity,5 driving ability,6 psychomotor functions,7 and sound perception,8 among other effects.
More recent studies, done with support from Amanda Feilding and The Beckley Foundation, have looked at LSD’s effects on humans. In an August 2020 study, Ramaekers et al. found LSD to have analgesic qualities,9 which the team hypothesize have to do with blood pressure increases, inhibitory receptor activity, and emotional dissociation. In a statement from Beckley, Dr. Ramaekers said, “The magnitude of the analgesic effect appears comparable to analgesic effects of opioids in the same pain model. These findings strongly encourage clinical trials in pain patients to assess the replicability and generalizability of these findings.” A Psychedelic Science Review reported on the study, which also earned coverage in Futurism, Inverse, and VICE, among other outlets. Another study investigated how low doses of LSD influence mood, creativity, and cognition, finding mild but consistent improvements in mood and mixed results on changes to creativity and cognition.10
Dr. Ramaekers also serves as a scientific advisor for GH Research, a company that is developing 5-MeO-DMT-based intravenous and inhalant therapies to address treatment-resistant depression and other mood disorders. In the Technology Networks interview, Dr. Ramaekers underscored the importance of using synthetic 5-MeO-DMT for research instead of Bufo alvarius poison extraction: “This is where we should be going…With the synthetic compound, it’s much easier to produce and much easier to control [the dose]. And so we would say, ‘Leave the toad alone. Just go for the synthetic compound.’”
More information about Dr. Ramaekers and his research can be found on his ResearchGate profile.