Leanna Standish

Leanna Standish


I am a scientist and physician with a background that is ideally suited to the investigation of ayahuasca in humans. I was first trained as a neuroscientist with a focus on psychopharmacology and limbic system functional anatomy. In the first decade of my career I studied the psychopharmacology of benzodiazepines, amphetamine, ketamine, and phencyclidine in rodent and primate behavioral models. Since then I have not only actively pursued research interests in clinical neuroscience, behavioral sciences, neuro-oncology, acupuncture, ethnopharmacology and natural products, but have also cared for patients as a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. I have deepened both my research and clinical interests in cancer and have become board certified in naturopathic oncology, the application of natural medicines in cancer research and patient care. For the last eight years I have been using fMRI brain imaging technology to measure subtle effects of medical qi gong in both healthy subjects and brain cancer patients.

I bring a wealth of experience as a researcher to the endeavor that we now propose. As principal investigator of a Phase I dose escalation trial of a medical mushroom extract in breast cancer patients and as Co-investigator on a number of projects including a large pediatric Echinacea trial, a Phase II trial of silymarin in hepatitis C patients, and a Phase I trial of andrographis in HIV+ patients, I am experienced in all aspects of natural products clinical research with IRB- and FDA-approved study medications. As an NIH PI since 1994 and an experienced NIH center director, I have learned the skills of leading and managing large complex multi-center, multidisciplinary clinical research projects that involve pharmacology, brain imaging, botanical drug manufacturing, psychological and neurochemical measurements, and the local, state and federal agencies that oversee such research.

While ethnopharmacology is part of naturopathic medical training, I first learned about the interesting psychoactive ethnomedicine ayahuasca during ethnopharmacology field trips to the Amazon in 2000 and 2005. I have studied the ethnopharmacognosy, botany, harvest and cultivation methods of the two plant species that make up ayahuasca extracts. I have learned ayahuasca extraction methods from Amazonian herbal healers and have successfully replicated these methods under GMP.


PhD, University of Massachusetts, 1978

MS, University of Massachusetts, 1975

AB, Mount Holyoke College (Ma), 1972
Biology, Philosophy, Psychology


Dr. Standish directs the breast cancer research program at Bastyr University and was appointed as a member of the Advisory Council for NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 1999-2001, and has served on the NCI Cancer Advisory Panel for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Currently, she is principal investigator on several NIH/NCCAM funded research projects in the areas of HIV/AIDS and basic neurophysiological research on the mind/body interaction.


Research Professor
Bastyr University


In September of 2000, Dr. Standish was named by Seattle Magazine as one of Seattle's Top Doctors.