Monell Chemical Senses Center

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Monell Chemical Senses Center
DirectorRobert Margolskee
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Address3500 Market Street

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a non-profit independent scientific institute located at the University City Science Center research campus in Philadelphia, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Monell conducts and publishes interdisciplinary basic research on taste, smell, and chemesthesis (chemically mediated skin senses, such as the burn of capsaicin or the tingle of carbonation).


Founded in 1968, the center's mission is to advance knowledge of the mechanisms and functions of the chemical senses to benefit human health and well-being. Knowledge gained from Monell’s basic research provides insight and solutions for issues related to public health, national health policy, and quality of life, including studies of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, pediatric health, occupational safety, environmental interactions, and homeland security.

Monell has a scientific staff of more than 50 Ph.D.-level scientists, and provides research opportunities for local high school and undergraduate students. Situated in the academic heart of Philadelphia’s University City Science Center, the center occupies two buildings with a total of 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2). The institute is operated as a non-profit organization and receives funding from government grants, primarily from the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as well as from foundations and unrestricted corporate sponsorships.


Robert Margolskee was appointed in 2014 as the center's third Director. Dwight Riskey is Board Chair. Many eminent scientists, academicians and business executives have served the center as board members and members of advisory committees.

Notable members[edit]

Selected achievements[edit]

  • Characterized the first sweet-tasting protein, “Monellin,” broadening the concept of sweet taste[1]
  • Demonstrated that bodily odors can signal disease even before appearance of overt symptoms[2]
  • Revealed critical role of perinatal experience in establishing flavor preferences of infants, children, and adults[3]
  • Described role of liver chemosensors in control of appetite and satiety.[4]
  • Established that genetically-determined odortypes provide signals of individual identity.[5]
  • Developed the labeled magnitude scale to reliably measure human sensory perception.[6]
  • Pioneered use of living human tissue to characterize human olfactory and taste cell function.[7]
  • Identified one of the receptors for sweet taste.[8]
  • Established use of chemosignals as effective nonlethal means of vertebrate pest control.[9]
  • Demonstrated influential role of diet in adult preference for salty taste.[10][11]
  • Combined sensory and genetic approaches to document unique sensory worlds for every individual.[12][13]
  • Used sensory properties of olive oil to identify oleocanthal, a novel anti-inflammatory compound.[14]


  1. ^ Morris, James A.; Martenson, Russell; Deibler, Gladys; Cagan, Robert H. (1973-01-25). "Characterization of Monellin, a Protein That Tastes Sweet". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 248 (2): 534–539. PMID 4684691.
  2. ^ Yamazaki, Kunio; Beauchamp, Gary K.; Singer, Alan; Bard, Judith; Boyse, Edward A. (1999-02-16). "Odortypes: Their origin and composition". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (4): 1522–1525. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.4.1522. PMC 15502. PMID 9990056.
  3. ^ Mennella, J. A. (2007). The chemical senses and the development of flavor preferences in humans. In: Hartmann, P. E. and Hale, T., Textbook on Human Lactation. Hale Publishing, Texas, pp 403 - 414.
  4. ^ Friedman M. I. (1997). "An energy sensor for control of energy intake". Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 56: 41–50. doi:10.1079/pns19970008.
  5. ^ Yamazaki K., Beauchamp G. K., Singer A. G., Bard J., Boyse E. A. (1999). "Odortypes: Their origin and composition". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 96: 1522–1525. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.4.1522. PMC 15502.
  6. ^ Green B. G., Shaffer G. S., Gilmore M. M. (1993). "Derivation and evaluation of a semantic scale of oral sensation magnitude with apparent ratio properties". Chemical Senses. 18: 683–702. doi:10.1093/chemse/18.6.683.
  7. ^ Rawson N. E., Gomez G., Cowart B. J., Brand J., Lowry L. D., Pribitkin E. A., Restrepo D. (1997). "Selectivity and response characteristics of human olfactory neurons". Journal of Neurophysiology. 77: 1606–1613. doi:10.1152/jn.1997.77.3.1606.
  8. ^ Bachmanov A. A., Li X., Reed D. R., Ohmen J. D., Li S., Chen Z., Tordoff M. G., de Jong P. J., Wu C., West D. B., Chatterjee A., Ross D. A., Beauchamp G. K. (2001). "Positional cloning of the mouse saccharin preference (Sac) locus". Chemical Senses. 26: 925–933. doi:10.1093/chemse/26.7.925. PMC 3644801.
  9. ^ Clark L., Mason J. R. (1992). "Nonlethal repellents: The development of cost-effective, practical solutions to agricultural and industrial problems". Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference. 15: 115–129.
  10. ^ Beauchamp G. K., Bertino M., Burke D., Engelman K. (1991). "Experimental sodium depletion and salt taste in normal human volunteers". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 51: 881–889. doi:10.1093/ajcn/51.5.881.
  11. ^ Bertino M., Beauchamp G. K., Engelman K. (1982). "Long-term reduction in dietary sodium alters the taste of salt". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 36: 1134–1144. doi:10.1093/ajcn/36.6.1134.
  12. ^ Breslin P. A. S., Spector A. C. (2009). "Mammalian taste perception". Current Biology. 18: R148–R155. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.12.017.
  13. ^ Chen Q. Y., Alarcon S., Tharp A., Ahmed O. M., Estrella N. L., Greene T. A., Rucker J., Breslin P. A. S. (2009). "Perceptual variation in umami taste and polymorphisms in TAS1R taste receptor genes". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 90: 770S–779S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27462n. PMC 3136006.
  14. ^ Beauchamp G. K., Keast R. S. J., Morel D. Lin J., Pika J., Han Q., Lee C-H, Smith A. B., III , Breslin P. A. S. (2005). "Ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil". Nature. 437: 45–46. doi:10.1038/437045a.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′21″N 75°11′35″W / 39.9558°N 75.1931°W / 39.9558; -75.1931