Monell’s Impact

In 2018, Monell celebrated our 50th year as a world-renowned leader in groundbreaking chemosensory research.

Looking back, we recognized the impact of Monell’s discoveries in improving human health. Techniques pioneered by Monell to biopsy and culture living human taste cells are being used today to discover new ways to reduce the bitterness of pediatric pharmacologic formulations so more children will take their life-saving medicines. We identified “taste” receptors in the nose and gut with therapeutic potential for treating such diseases as diabetes, obesity, and intestinal parasites. And research showing that most of the salt we eat comes from commercially-prepared foods led to new Federal Drug Administration guidelines lowering the amount of salt in manufactured and restaurant foods – a major step in addressing our nation’s high rate of heart disease. Those are just a few exciting examples.

Inspired and energized by that look back, we now look ahead to our next 50 years. Our vision from the vanguard: A future where Monell’s discoveries in taste, smell, and related senses lead to early detection, prevention, and treatment of disease. One in which we assure the healthy function of these essential senses throughout a person’s lifetime. A future where this vital work improves health and well-being for every one of us, everywhere.

Roadmap in hand, we are on an expedition to explore new frontiers to improve public health. Thank you for joining us on our remarkable journey. Together, we are creating a healthier world.

Robert Margolskee, MD, PhD
Director and President

David Macnair, PhD
Chair of the Board

Selected Monell Discoveries

Flavor preferences are shaped by our mother’s diet, even before we are born.

Smell and taste both function as an early warning system, alerting us to many types of attacks on human health, including most recently the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Our unique individual odors signal information about who we are, our health, ethnicity, stress level, and more.

World Trade Center first responders suffered impairment of their sensory ability to detect airborne irritants, reinforcing the need for emergency personnel to use respiratory protection.

Reducing sodium in our diets helps us learn to prefer less salty tasting foods.

In fact, our research has guided the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity and the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for industry reduction of sodium in foods.