Research and Career Highlights

Gary K. Beauchamp, PhD

With students, postdoctoral trainees, other Monell colleagues, as well as collaborators at academic and commercial institutions from around the world, Dr. Gary K. Beauchamp conducted basic research in the fields of taste, smell, and flavor, encompassing techniques ranging from behavioral to molecular biology. Highlights of his eclectic research career include:

Biology of taste
  • Contributed to the discovery of the molecular basis for sweet and salty taste perception.
  • Demonstrated that the loss of the ability to taste sweet by cats and other animals that eat only meat is due to loss of function of the sweet taste receptor, which provides a dramatic illustration of how changes in diet are coordinated with changes in gene structure and function.
  • Provided the first demonstration that adult taste liking for very salty foods can be changed by reducing intake of salt over a 2 to 3 month period. This research provided a scientific basis for the FDA and other policy making organizations world-wide to recommend or require gradual reductions of salt in commercially prepared foods, thereby benefiting public health.
The Flavor World of the Newborn Infant and Its Developmental Arc Over the First Years of Life
  • Showed that infants are born with a well-developed perception and liking for sweets but sensitivity and liking for salt develops several months after birth.
  • Discovered that flavors consumed by mothers are transmitted in their amniotic fluids and their milk. Moreover, identified a dramatic sensitive period for flavor learning in human infants at about 3 to 6 months of life. These studies revealed the importance of early experience in establishing food and flavor preferences that may last into adulthood.
  • Documented that children prefer sweeter and saltier tastes than adults, which underlies the difficulty in guiding children toward healthier, less sweet, less salty, foods.
Odor signaling in humans and other animals
  • Over many years, it has been documented that the same personal information that humans obtain from each other from vision (e.g. gender, age, emotional state, individual identity, health status) many other mammals get mainly through their sense of smell.
  • Explored how genes that confer individual olfactory identity in animals, including humans, are many of the same genes that mediate self-nonself recognition in the immune system. This program of work reveals a functional connection between odor communication outside the body and immune communication within it.
  • Demonstrated the existence of a variety of disease-related body odors in several species. These studies may lead to novel tools for human and animal disease diagnosis.
Flavor perception and pharmacological activity
  • Based on the observation that the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen has the unusual property of inducing a scratchy throat burn and a desire to cough, correctly predicted that a compound (oleocanthal) in extra virgin olive oil with identical sensory properties would have identical pharmacological properties and therefore be a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Identified the sensory receptors in the throat that account for this characteristic sensation.
  • These discoveries stimulated researchers from many countries to identify oleocanthal as having many health-benefiting properties (e.g. anti-cancer, anti-neurodegenerative disease, heart-healthy). The well-known health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet may be due in part to long-term consumption of this novel nutraceutical in extra virgin olive oil.

Positions and Honors (1961 – Present)

Positions and Employment
Position
Year
Position
Postdoctoral Fellow
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1971 - 1973
Position
Assistant Member
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1973 - 1974
Position
Associate Member
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1974 - 1981
Position
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Otorhinolaryngology & Human Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Year
1974 - 1981
Position
Member
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1981 - 2014
Position
Adjunct Associate Professor
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Year
1983 - 1989
Position
Assistant Director
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1986 - 1989
Position
Associate Director
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1989 - 1990
Position
Adjunct Professor
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Year
1989 - 2019
Position
Director and President
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
1990 - 2014
Position
Distinguished Member and Emeritus Director and President
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Year
2014 - present
Other Experience and Professional Memberships
Position
Year
Position
Special Reviewer
Sensory Disorders and Language Study Section, NIH
Year
1984
Position
Special Reviewer
RFA: Sodium Sensitivity and Blood Pressure
Year
1984
Position
Panel Member
Sensory Physiology and Perception, NSF
Year
1984 - 1987
Position
Executive Chairperson
Association for Chemoreception Sciences
Year
1988 - 1989
Position
Member
Committee on Science and the Arts, the Franklin Institute
Year
1989 - 1997
Position
Special Reviewer
NIH, NIDCD Training Grant Proposal
Year
1991
Position
Member
Smell, Taste and Touch and Chemosensory Disorders Expert Panel, NIDCD
Year
1993
Position
Member
Director Search Committee, NIDCD, NIH
Year
1997
Position
Member
Strategic Planning Committee, NIDCD, NIH
Year
1999
Position
Member (Vice President 2015 - present)
Board of Directors, The Ambrose Monell Foundation & and the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation
Year
2000 - present
Position
Member
NIDCD Advisory Council of the NIH
Year
2001 - 2005
Position
Member
ILSI North America: Food, Nutrition and Safety Committee
Year
2007 - 2010
Position
Member
Purdue University’s External Advisory Committee: Ingestive Behavior Research Center
Year
2007 - 2018
Position
Member
Institute of Medicine of The National Academies: Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake
Year
2008 - 2010
Position
Member
Strategic Planning Committee, NIDCD, NIH
Year
2010 - 2011
Position
Member
ILSI North America, Board of Directors
Year
2011 - 2021
Honors and Awards

Honor/Award
Year
Honor/Award
National Merit Scholar
Year
1961 - 1965
Honor/Award
Title IV Fellow
National Defense Education Act
Year
1968 - 1971
Honor/Award
Claude Pepper Award of Excellence
NIDCD, NIH
Year
1990 - 1997
Honor/Award
Medal of Achievement
University of Helsinki
Year
1992
Honor/Award
Sense of Smell Award
Olfactory Research Fund
Year
1998
Honor/Award
Outstanding Achievement Award
Association for Chemoreception Sciences
Year
1999
Honor/Award
Excellence in Flavor Science Award
The Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association
Year
2009
Honor/Award
Fellow
The American Society for Nutrition
Year
2010
Honor/Award
Honorary Member
Society of Flavor Chemists
Year
2015