ayahuasca research center at the mishana community in Peru

Research Team

These are the lead researchers conducting experiments at the Riosbo Research & Retreat Center in the Allpahuayo-Mishana national reserve, near Iquitos, Peru:

Ayahuasca Research psychiatrist Simon RuffellSimon Ruffell

Simon studied medicine at the University of Sheffield before specializing in psychiatry. Simon has an interest in transcultural psychiatry, having worked as a doctor overseas in Northern Uganda. He now works in psychedelic research, with a focus on ayahuasca and has spent the last five years conducting research into the use of ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon. He also works as a psychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital in South London, as well as working as a Senior Research Associate at King’s College London looking at the use of psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression. He is currently completing a PhD looking at the the use ayahuasca in the Amazon and associated mental health outcomes.

Nige Netzband

A BPS accredited research psychologist with experience in psychopharmacology and experimental design, Nige has been involved in the projects at Riosbo since 2016, looking at the effects of ayahuasca. His primary interest is the pursuit of furthering medicine by establishing efficacy in novel treatments. With interests in consciousness, neuroscience, physical health and nutrition, Nige believes in holistic approaches to healthcare. He is currently a doctoral candidate on a psychotherapy training program in Bristol, and feels that psychedelic-assisted therapy may play a large role in the future of psychiatry. In his spare time he volunteers for the harm reduction charity, PsyCare.

Ayahuasca Research doctor WaiFungWaiFung Tsang

Hailing from Hong Kong, WaiFung is a Psychology MSc and DClinPsych candidate with years of clinical experience primarily in the field of addiction, exhibiting an interest in empirical research of psychoactive substances. Currently based at the Maudsley Hospital, Kings College London, he has undertaken the role of researcher statistician and psychologist in projects exploring adapted traditional ceremonial use of Ayahuasca for the treatment of trauma related conditions, working alongside Simon and Nige. WaiFung is also an avid musician who enjoys honing sound-healing techniques as well as psychedelic harm reduction work at music festivals.

Ayahuasca Retreat Programs at Ayahuasca Foundation


In 2015, whilst investigating transcultural psychiatry, Dr. Simon Ruffell travelled down through central America where he came into contact with one of the lead facilitators at the Ayahuasca Foundation; Keyo. Both around the age of 30 and with similar experience in their representative professions, they began discussing the overlaps, parallels and contrasts between modern Western treatments and traditional Amazonian plant medicines.

Accompanied by Nige Netzband – a psychopharmacologist, Dr. Ruffell then set off to the Ayahuasca Foundation and self-funded the first experiment at the Riosbo research center. This study looked at the effects of ayahuasca on personality, in which they observed profound shifts in the vast majority of their participants. Blown away by first-hand observations and the data they recorded, they knew they were on to something with great potential.

Over the following years they attended many scientific conferences in hope of sharing their findings. This led to the duo being supported by the British Medical Research Council (MRC UK), as they were appointed to design and conduct a study looking at potential clinical applications; with a particular focus on how ayahuasca may aid in the reprocessing of traumatic events. At this point they were joined by Wai Fung Tsang to aid with the analyses, who then became a key member of the team.

As things continue to progress, the research team developed and conducted more studies and are constantly expanding the number of projects (see projects page). Publications appear in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry and the Psychopharmacology journal, with several others currently in press.

The team are increasing the amount of collaborators in hope that the full potential of ayahuasca can be explored using scientific methods.

All researchers and collaborators involved are independent of any pharmaceutical company and are selected only if the core ethos is progressing the understanding of medicine.

If you would like to be involved or have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the team on the option above.