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McKenna, Dennis J. (Dennis Jon)



  • Existence: December 17, 1950 -

Dennis Jon McKenna was born on December 17, 1950 in Paonia, Colorado. He received a B.A. in biology from the University of Colorado in 1973. In 1971, Dennis and older brother Terrence traveled to La Chorrera, the ancestral home of the Witoto people in the Colombian Amazon, in search of "oo-koo-hé", a DMT-containing plant. Companion researchers accompanied the brothers, and the group was collectively known as the Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss. The experiment occurred on March 4, wherein Dennis and Terence consumed a brew of plant hallucinogens, aiming to fabricate an artifact that would be the fusion of mind and matter. The brothers recounted the details of what happened in La Chorrera in their 1975 book "The Invisible Landscape". Dennis published a more extensive account in 2012 under the title "The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna". In 1976, Terence and Dennis pseudonymously published one of the earliest psilocybin mushroom growing guides under the names O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric. Dennis then went on to earn an M.A. in botany from the University of Hawaii in 1979, and a Ph.D. in botanical sciences from the University of British Columbia in 1984. Dennis received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health and in the Department of Neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine. 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. In 2001, Dennis joined the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. Dennis 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 Brazil. He is also a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and serves on the advisory board of non-profit organizations in the fields of ethnobotany and botanical medicines. At Heffter, he continues his focus on the therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines derived from nature and used in indigenous ethnomedical practices. Dennis is author or co-author on over forty scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, European Journal of Pharmacology, Brain Research, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, Economic Botany, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, and elsewhere. Note written by Dennis J. McKenna.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Dennis and Terence McKenna papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 213
Abstract The Dennis and Terence McKenna papers contain unpublished manuscripts, field reports, journals of personal reflections, photographs, and correspondence pertaining to Dennis and Terence McKenna’s intellectual and research interests.
Dates: 1943 - 2016

Dennis McKenna collection of writings

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20130426.1

McKenna, Dennis J., G. H. N. Towers, and F. Abbot. "Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors in South American Hallucinogenic Plants: Tryptamine and beta-Carboline Constituents of Ayahuasca," Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Vol. 10 (photocopy), 1984

 Item — Box: 8, Folder: 4
Identifier: MSP 1, Series 3, Sub-Series 2, File 13, Item 39
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Series: Includes published and unpublished preprints, reprints, abstracts, and drafts of articles on the use of psychotropic substances as a therapeutic agent. It also includes book chapters, letters to the editor, and conference presentations.
Dates: 1984

Ralph Metzner collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 56
Abstract This collection contains articles and publications collected by Ralph Metzner that explore different aspects of the progression of psychoactive substance research, including scientific research, politics, and religion.
Dates: 1958 - 2008; Majority of material found within 1960 - 1990