Monell Chemical Senses Center

Philadelphia, PA, United States

Monell Chemical Senses Center

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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News Article | May 19, 2017

The University City Science Center is seeking proposals for its QED Proof-of-Concept Program. Academic researchers with technologies ripe for commercialization, and who are affiliated with the 21 partner academic and research institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, are encouraged to submit proposals. QED, now in its tenth round, is the first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program for the life sciences and healthcare IT. The program provides academic researchers with mentoring, business advice, and in some cases, funding to commercialize their early-stage technologies. The QED Selection Team comprised of industry experts and investors will select 10-15 applications as program participants. Program participants will be paired with Business Advisors and work to develop proof-of-concept plans to commercialize their technologies. Up to four projects will receive up to $200,000 each for technical proof-of-concept validation over a 12-month period. Funding for each project is contributed equally by the Science Center and by the researcher’s home institution. Ownership of all intellectual property is retained by the research institution and transitioned into licensing opportunities or new ventures according to institutional policies and commercial interest. Early submission for proposals is June 2. Researchers submitting proposals by this deadline will receive feedback from the Science Center and have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their proposals. The final submission deadline is June 29. Since the program’s inception in 2009, QED has screened 539 proposals from 21 partner academic and research institutions. Of the technologies screened, 105 projects have been accepted into the competitive program and paired with Business Advisors. QED has awarded a total of $5.45 million to 31 projects, primarily in the therapeutic/biologic, device/diagnostic, and healthcare IT sectors. Of these 31 projects, nine technologies have been licensed, while six have gone on to form startup companies. Projects awarded funding by the QED Program have raised over $19 million in follow-on funding. QED has received support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, William Penn Foundation, and Wexford Science and Technology. About the Science Center Located in the heart of uCity Square, the Science Center is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that catalyzes and connects innovation to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. For 50+ years, the Science Center has supported startups, research, and economic development in the life sciences, healthcare, physical sciences, and emerging technology sectors. As a result, graduate firms and current residents of the Science Center’s incubator support one out of every 100 jobs in the Greater Philadelphia region and drive $13 billion in economic activity in the region annually. By providing resources and programming for any stage of a business’s lifecycle, the Science Center helps scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators take their concepts from idea to IPO – and beyond. For more information about the Science Center, go to About the QED Program The QED Program was launched in April 2009. A common participation agreement that defines matching funds, indirect costs, and intellectual property management, has been signed by 21 universities and research institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Delaware State University, Drexel University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Lehigh University, Monell Chemical Senses Center, New Jersey Institute of Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Widener University, and The Wistar Institute.

News Article | May 31, 2017

"We are proud to support the Monell Center's commitment to helping people with acquired anosmia," said Dr. Michael Buch, Young Living Chief Science Officer. "This partnership is one example of our continued commitment to help people live life to its fullest through essential oils." For recovering anosmics, smell training offers a promising technique to retrain their olfactory sense. In clinical trials, a significant number of patients who used smell training fared better in the areas of identification and discrimination of smells than those who did no training at all. "As the leading scientific research institute focused on the sense of smell, Monell is dedicated to identifying potential treatments for and raising awareness of the invisible disability of anosmia. We are grateful for the support of Young Living Essential Oils in this vital mission," said Leslie Stein, PhD, Monell's Director of Science Communications. In addition to rose, eucalyptus, lemon and clove essential oils, the classical components to smell training, participants are encouraged to use additional oils that have personal meaning for them.  As part of the smell training process, they smell all the essential oils twice a day for a few minutes. Young Living Essential Oils is the modern-day pioneer of pure essential oils and distillation and continues to be the key influencer and leader in the global wellness movement. Young Living Essential Oils, LC, is the world leader in essential oils, with a strict Seed to Seal® process that ensures pure essential oil products for every individual, family, and lifestyle. This process ensures that all products are genuine, free of synthetic chemicals, and pure. This commitment stems from the company's more than 20 years of stewardship toward the earth and its people. For more information, visit The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now approaching its 50th anniversary in 2018, Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit For more information about the Monell Center Smell Training on June 22, 2017 in Philadelphia, visit To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

University of Pennsylvania and Monell Chemical Senses Center | Date: 2015-09-03

Provided are devices and methods to detect the presence of volatile organic compounds related to the presence of a disease state in a biological sample. The devices may include a detection moiety such as a polynucleotide in electronic communication with a semiconductor such as graphene or a carbon nanotube.

News Article | May 11, 2017

Humans are the superior animal on planet Earth. We have huge brains that allow us to build skyscrapers and come up with dazzling inventions like pizza and the internet. We’re highly visual, with the ability to pick out the face of a friend in a crowd and paint realistic works of art with our hands and eyes alone. But we’ve long believed these strengths came at a cost: our sense of smell. “People are sometimes taught that because humans developed such a good visual system, we lost a sense of smell as a trade-off,” Rutgers University neurobiologist John McGann says. The myth of poor human olfaction is centuries old. And it is due for a thorough debunking. “The human olfactory system is excellent,” McGann writes in a paper out today in Science that reviews the wide array of evidence on the human sense of smell. “We’re like lots of mammals with a perfectly good sense of smell, and if we paid more attention to it, I think we’d realize how important it is to us,” he tells me. In fact, when you actually test humans on their ability to smell specific compounds, we’re pretty discerning. We can smell particles that are just two atoms large. And we can tell more than a trillion distinct odors apart. But how did the myth get started? And why is it not likely to go away soon? Let’s take a walk through the research. As McGann explains in the new paper, the myth began — as myths often do — with an overconfident male scientist. Paul Broca was a 19th-century anatomist in France who pioneered the study of the roles different brain regions play in speech and perception. In his dissections of the human brain, he noticed an oddity. The olfactory bulb — the region where we process smells — was relatively small in humans compared to other animals. He reasoned that this meant the sense of smell was less important for humans than other animals. (Not without some merit. Humans don’t leave urine markings or other forms of odor as a means of social communication, as many animals do.) “Through a chain of misunderstandings and exaggerations beginning with Broca himself, this conclusion warped into the modern misapprehension that humans have a poor sense of smell,” McGann writes. One reason the myth persisted is confirmation bias. This is often a problem in science: Initial, exciting results that ultimately end up being wrong are hard to dispel. After Broca, any evidence scientists found that contributed to the “humans smell poorly” theory was championed, while evidence to the contrary was dismissed. For instance, when in the 2000s researchers revealed that 390 of the 1,000 odor receptor genes in the human genomes had no apparent function (since they don’t produce proteins), they instantly concluded this was further proof of humans’ disappointing olfaction. But they didn’t stop to think whether these 390 genes actually mattered when it came to actually sniffing out odors. A key paper that helped chip away at the myth appeared in Nature Neuroscience in 2006. In the 2000s, 32 brave human research subjects got on their hands and knees in the middle of a grassy field, put their noses to the ground, and were told to follow a scent trail, like dogs. The scent in this case was a spritz of chocolate oil dragged across the lawn. This wasn’t a prank. It was Serious Science. “Two-thirds of the subjects were capable of following the scent trail,” the researchers wrote. Maybe we weren’t such bad sniffers after all. Recent research reveals that even though the size of the human olfactory bulb is relatively small, it still has about roughly the same number of neurons as the olfactory bulbs of most other mammals. And “there is little support for the notion that physically larger olfactory bulbs predict better olfactory function, regardless of whether bulb size is considered in absolute or relative terms,” McGann writes. And when you actually test out our ability to discern scents, it turns out we’re just as good as — if not sometimes better than — most other mammals. It’s still often hard to directly compare the sense of smell between two animals, because we use them for wildly different tasks and social behaviors. “So dogs like to sniff each other’s butts,” Paul Breslin, a scientist who studies odor perception with the Monell Chemical Senses Center, tells me (as I hold back laughter). “So you could ask the question — are humans not as good at sniffing butts as dogs? I don’t know. I haven’t sniffed that many people’s butts. I haven’t sniffed dogs’ butts, for that matter. Maybe if I sniffed as many butts as my dog does, I would notice they all smell different. So how do you compare them?” For that matter, dogs — if they could talk — might be in awe of our ability to use our sense in cooking. How can we tell, just from sniffing, if certain combination of spices will taste good? It’s an incredibly complicated process. Dogs do have a bit of a leg up on us when it comes to the biomechanics of sniffing. Their noses have what’s called a vomeronasal organ, which acts as a pump that pulls chemicals that are in liquids up into the nose. “That organ has its own receptors, its own nerve, and is processed in its own brain region,” McGann says. It means that dogs can pick up on odors trapped in liquids, whereas humans can only smell odors in the air. But it’s a debate whether the sensations picked up by this organ are “smell” or some other sense that humans don’t have access to. When it comes to sniffing certain chemicals, humans often outperform rodents or monkeys. But then, some of these animals outperform us on other scents. It’s not that some animals are vastly better than others across the board. We’re all adapted to be sensitive to different chemicals, and this is likely driven by evolution. For instance, McGann points out, humans perform poorly smelling the chemical 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-3-ol. It’s a pheromone commonly found in cat urine. We don’t really need to smell that. We don’t often consciously realize we’re using our sense of smell in decision-making. “How many times in your life have you pulled some old leftovers, some old thing, out of the fridge and decided whether to eat it or not by a sniff?” McGann says. “You probably didn’t stop to think, ‘My sense of smell probably saved my life.’” That’s an obvious example. But there are other ways our sense of smell guides our behaviors perhaps unconsciously. McGann says there’s evidence humans tend to take a whiff of their hands after shaking another’s which suggests “an unexpected olfactory component to this common social interaction,” McGann writes. And kissing? It’s a weird universal human practice that’s not essential for procreation. So why do we do it? Breslin thinks its widespread adoption has something to do with odor. “When you kiss someone, you smell them, you smell their body, you smell their metabolism, because it’s coming out of their lungs when you kiss them; you smell their breath, you smell their disease state — if they’re sick, you’ll smell that,” he says. We use all of that information — consciously or not — when selecting a mate. This all made me wonder what new uses we can put our noses to now that this myth is dispelled. People often train pigs to help find rare, expensive truffles hiding underground. But why bother training the pig? “Do we actually have evidence that a human crawling on the ground couldn’t find a truffle?” McGann says. “It’s difficult to presume that.”

Mennella J.A.,Monell Chemical Senses Center
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Year: 2014

Health initiatives address childhood obesity in part by encouraging good nutrition early in life. This review highlights the science that shows that children naturally prefer higher levels of sweet and salty tastes and reject lower levels of bitter tastes than do adults. Thus, their basic biology does not predispose them to favor the recommended low-sugar, low-sodium, vegetable-rich diets and makes them especially vulnerable to our current food environment of foods high in salt and refined sugars. The good news is that sensory experiences, beginning early in life, can shape preferences. Mothers who consume diets rich in healthy foods can get children off to a good start because flavors are transmitted from the maternal diet to amniotic fluid and mother's milk, and breastfed infants are more accepting of these flavors. In contrast, infants fed formula learn to prefer its unique flavor profile and may have more difficulty initially accepting flavors not found in formula, such as those of fruit and vegetables. Regardless of early feeding mode, infants can learn through repeated exposure and dietary variety if caregivers focus on the child's willingness to consume a food and not just the facial expressions made during feeding. In addition, providing complementary foods low in salt and sugars may help protect the developing child from excess intake later in life. Early-life experiences with healthy tastes and flavors may go a long way toward promoting healthy eating, which could have a significant impact in addressing the many chronic illnesses associated with poor food choice. © 2014 American Society for Nutrition.

Reisert J.,Monell Chemical Senses Center
Journal of General Physiology | Year: 2010

Mammalian odorant receptors form a large, diverse group of G protein-coupled receptors that determine the sensitivity and response profile of olfactory receptor neurons. But little is known if odorant receptors control basal and also stimulus-induced cellular properties of olfactory receptor neurons other than ligand specificity. This study demonstrates that different odorant receptors have varying degrees of basal activity, which drives concomitant receptor current fluctuations and basal action potential firing. This basal activity can be suppressed by odorants functioning as inverse agonists. Furthermore, odorant-stimulated olfactory receptor neurons expressing different odorant receptors can have strikingly different response patterns in the later phases of prolonged stimulation. Thus, the influence of odorant receptor choice on response characteristics is much more complex than previously thought, which has important consequences on odor coding and odor information transfer to the brain. © 2010 Reisert.

Dalton P.,Monell Chemical Senses Center
Neurology | Year: 2013

The human olfactory system provides us with information about our environment that is critical to our physical and psychological well-being. Individuals can vary widely in their ability to detect, recognize, and identify odors, but still be within the range of normal function. Although several standardized tests of odor identification are available, few specifically address the issues in testing very young children, most of whom are likely to be unfamiliar with many of the odor stimuli used in adult tests and have limited ability to read and identify labels to select among choices. Based on the format of the San Diego Odor Identification Test and the delivery system of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test, we developed 2 versions of an odor identification test using standardized odor stimuli in a scratch-and-sniff format in which participants match 5 (children) or 9 (adults) odors to pictures representing the odor source. Results from normative testing and validation showed that for most participants, the test could be completed in 5 minutes or less and that the poorer performance among the youngest children and the elderly was consistent with data from tests with larger numbers of items. Expanding on the pediatric version of the test with adult-specific and public health-relevant odors increased the ecological validity of the test and facilitated comparisons of intraindividual performance across developmental stages.

Teff K.L.,Monell Chemical Senses Center
Physiology and Behavior | Year: 2011

Learned anticipatory and compensatory responses allow the animal and human to maintain metabolic homeostasis during periods of nutritional challenges, either acutely within each meal or chronically during periods of overnutrition. This paper discusses the role of neurally-mediated anticipatory responses in humans and their role in glucoregulation, focusing on cephalic phase insulin and pancreatic polypeptide release as well as compensatory insulin release during the etiology of insulin resistance. The necessary stimuli required to elicit CPIR and vagal activation are discussed and the role of CPIR and vagal efferent activation in intra-meal metabolic homeostasis and during chronic nutritional challenges are reviewed. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Monell Chemical Senses Center | Date: 2014-12-15

Described herein are mammalian taste papillae cells, cell lines, and cell membranes, methods, and kits for identifying agents, including ligands for olfactory receptors and enhancers and blockers thereof, that bind to or modulate the activity of olfactory receptors on mammalian taste papillae cells.

Li Y.,Monell Chemical Senses Center
American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism | Year: 2013

Sweet taste receptor subunits and α-gustducin found in enteroendocrine cells of the small intestine have been implicated in release of the incretin hormones glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) in response to glucose and noncaloric sweeteners. α-Gustducin has also been found in colon, although its function there is unclear. We examined expression of α-gustducin, GLP-1, and GIP throughout the intestine. The number of α-gustducin-expressing cells and those coexpressing α-gustducin together with GLP-1 and/or GIP increased from small intestine to colon. α-Gustducin also was coexpressed with fatty acid G protein-coupled receptor (GPR) 40, GPR41, GPR43, GPR119, GPR120, and bile acid G protein-coupled receptor TGR5 in enteroendocrine cells of the colon. In colon, GPR43 was coexpressed with GPR119 and GPR120, but not with TGR5. Treatment of colonic mucosa isolated from wild-type mice with acetate, butyrate, oleic acid, oleoylethanolamide, or lithocholic acid stimulated GLP-1 secretion. However, GLP-1 release in response to these fatty acids was impaired in colonic tissue from α-gustducin knockout mice.

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