Organisational form: Independent nonprofit research institute
Focus on: Taste, olfaction, chemesthesis (chemical feel)
Major activities: Basic research; Training
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an unrivaled multidisciplinary nonprofit research institution leading the world to a better understanding of taste, smell, and chemesthesis. Monell scientists make discoveries about how our bodies detect and respond to chemical molecules in the worlds within and around us.
Our work guides policies and inspires products that enable healthier diets, safer environments, and more powerful ways to meet pressing health challenges — from obesity to infectious disease to Alzheimer’s dementia. At Monell, we create and share knowledge to guide real-world advances in policy, practice and behavior. In our role as a nonprofit, Monell provides a public information resource and serves an unbiased authority on the science of taste and smell.
At Monell, approximately 50 PhD-level scientists from many disciplines work together to focus on a common objective: understanding the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell and how these senses relate to human health. The Center’s integrated research approaches range from basic molecular biology to behavioral neuroscience, from sensory psychophysics to cellular biology, from analytical chemistry to clinical work with human patients. Monell scientists work together to ask fundamental questions, such as: What is the biology underlying taste and smell? How do the chemical senses shape human sensory behavior and nutrition? Which genes are responsible and how do they affect food perception and acceptance?
Monell’s research has defined the science of taste and smell. The Center’s world-class scientists are at the forefront of research across varied levels of investigation. As just one example, Monell scientists helped to identify the primary sweet taste receptor and also since identified a second class of sweet sensors on the tongue. These breakthroughs have paved the way to current inquiries into how to stimulate, manipulate, enhance, inhibit, and create synergy of sweet taste.
Monell’s Corporate Sponsorship program has been at the vanguard of successful academic-industry partnerships since the Center’s inception. Currently, more than 40 leading international corporations from the food, beverage, fragrance, pharmaceutical, chemical, and other industries provide unrestricted annual support to Monell; these funds are critical in enabling the Center to fund innovative research and support beginning scientists. In return, sponsors receive access to research expertise and unbiased cutting-edge scientific information via educational and consulting opportunities. Sponsors also have the option to fund collaborative research projects involving basic research questions of mutual interest, with Monell’s scientists retaining the right to publish all findings.
Although not a degree-granting institution, an integral part of Monell’s mission is the preparation of the next generation of scientists. Hundreds of scientists have received training through Monell’s pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training programs, preparing them for productive positions in academia, government, and industry. During the summer, the Center’s highly successful Science Apprenticeship Program introduces talented high school and college students to science and research through direct hands-on mentored experience in Monell’s labs.