Paul Stamets. Mushrooms for People and Planet: Ancient Allies for Modern Maladies

John McDonald Moore Memorial Lecture Wed 17 Jun 2015 6.30PM-8.00PM The New School
John L. Tishman Auditorium
University Center
63 Fifth Avenue @ 13th Street
New York, NY
Free Admission
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Paul Stamets, legendary author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, gives an informative lecture on mushrooms that aims to deepen the understanding of and respect for organisms that exist literally under every footstep we take. His presentation covers a range of mushroom species and new research showing how mushrooms can help the health of people and planet. An introduction is offered by acclaimed mycologist Gary Lincoff who will comment on the speculative nature of mushroom research.

The central premise of Stamets' scholarship is that habitats have immune systems, just like people, and that mushrooms are cellular bridges between the two. Our close evolutionary relationship to fungi is the basis for novel pairings in the microbiome that lead to greater sustainability and immune enhancement. Declaring that "BioDiversity is BioSecurity," Stamets sees the ancient old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest as a resource of incalculable value because of their fungal genomes. A dedicated hiker and explorer, Stamets helps preserve and protect as many ancestral strains of mushrooms as possible from these pristine woodlands, and funds research to save rare strains of mushrooms that dwell within the old growth forests. Currently, Stamets is testing these rare strains at the NIH (National Institutes of Health/Virology).
    • Paul Stamets Mushrooms For People And Planet Ancient Allies For Modern Maladies
"W​e are now fully engaged in the 6th Major Extinction ("6 X") on planet Earth. Our biosphere is quickly changing, eroding the life support systems that have allowed humans to ascend. Unless we put into action policies and technologies that can cause a course correction in the very near future, species diversity will continue to plummet, with humans not only being the primary cause, but one of the victims. What can we do? Fungi, particularly mushrooms, offer some powerful, practical solutions, which can be put into practice now."


Paul Stamets, D.Sc (Hon.), is the founder of Fungi Perfecti and Host Defense Organic Mushrooms , and has been a dedicated mycologist for over forty years. He has discovered and coauthored new species of mushrooms, received nine patents, written six books, and pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and functional food mushroom cultivation. Two of his books, Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms and The Mushroom Cultivator, have been heralded as the "bibles" of the mushroom industry. His latest book, Mycelium Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, has propelled his vision of using mushrooms to help save ecosystems and improve population health to the world stage.

Stamets has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the science of medicinal mushrooms and ecology. His 2008 TED talk, "6 Ways Mushrooms Can Help Save the World," has been rated in the top 10 of all TED talks, and viewed more than 3 million times. His 2011 TEDMED introduced medicinal mushrooms to more than 800 physicians.

In 2014, Stamets received the highly acclaimed NAMA (North American Mycological Association) Award for expanding the field of mycology for both amateurs and professionals. In the same year, he was chosen as an Invention Ambassador by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, in recognition of bridging scientific discovery, education and applications from scientists to the public for societal benefit.

Gary Lincoff has been teaching courses on mushrooms and plants at the New York Botanical Garden since the mid-70's. He has written a number of books on mushrooms, including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms and co-founded the Telluride Mushroom Festival with Drs. Andrew Weil and Emanuel Salzman back in 1981, an annual mushroom festival celebrating its 35th year this August. He has co-led with Andrew Weil and Emanuel Salzman Mushroom Study Tours to over 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica. Lincoff was also President of the North American Mycological Association in the early 80's, and has been the Education Chair of the New York Mycological Society since 1972.

Lincoff consulted on and appeared in Ron Mann's 2008 documentary "Know Your Mushrooms." Along with other members of the New York Mycological Society, he is nearly ten years into a survey of all the mushrooms that occur in New York City parks, a project that has them visiting a city park every weekend of the year, including winter. Lincoff is a contributor to the Vera List Center's 2014 anthology Speculation, Now.


Named after one of the university's most influential art history teachers, this six-part lecture series honors John McDonald Moore's contribution to the university's intellectual life. Moore taught art history and criticism at The New School from 1968 until his death in 1999. Not unlike the speakers in this series—Stephanie Barron, Michael Brenson, Peter L. Galison, Boris Groys, Linda Nochlin, and now Paul Stamets—Moore brought to his students the vision of an artist who is also a scholar, and his classes were famously popular. His students, family, and friends established this lecture series in 2000.

Presented in conjunction with "Speculation, Now", the Vera List Center's new book.

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