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Joel Mainland, PhD

Monell Chemical Senses Center, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

A fundamental problem in neuroscience is mapping the physical properties of a stimulus to perceptual characteristics. In vision, wavelength translates into color; in audition, frequency translates into pitch. By contrast, the mapping from chemical structure to olfactory percept is unknown. In other words, there is not a scientist or perfumer in the world who can view a novel molecular structure and predict how it will smell. My research goal is to develop a predictive model relating molecular structure and olfactory perception using a combined psychophysical and molecular approach.

The Lab


Emily Mayhew

Postdoctoral Scientist


Carolyn Novaleski

Postdoctoral Scientist

Selected Publications

Ibarra-Soria X.; Nakahara T.S.; Lilue J.; Jiang Y.; Trimmer C.; Souza M.A.A.; Netto P.H.M.; Ikegami K.; Murphy N.R.; Kusma M.; Kirton A.; Saraiva L.R.; Keane T.M.; Matsunami H.; Mainland, J.D.; Papes F.; Logan D.W. (2016) Variation in olfactory neuron repertoires is genetically controlled and environmentally modulated. bioRxiv,

Mainland, J.D.; Li Y.R.; Zhou T.; Liu W.L.L.; Matsunami H. (2015) Human Olfactory Receptor Responses to Odorants. Scientific Data, 2.

Mainland, J.D.; Lundström, J.N.; Reisert, J.; Lowe, G. (2014) From molecule to mind: An integrative perspective on odor intensity. Trends in Neuroscience, 1062, 1-12.

Mainland, J.D.; Keller, A.; Li, Y.R.; Zhou, T.; Trimmer, C.; Snyder, L.L.; et al. (2014) The missense of smell: functional variability in the human odorant receptor repertoire. Nature Neuroscience, 17, 114-120.

Trimmer, C.; Snyder, L.L.; Mainland, J.D.. (2014) High-throughput analysis of mammalian olfactory receptors: measurement of receptor activation via luciferase activity. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 88, e51640-e51640

Mainland, J.D.; Willer, J.R.; Matsunami, H.; Katsanis, N. (2013) Next-generation sequencing of the human olfactory receptors. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1003, 133–147.

Mainland JD, Matsunami H. : RAMP-like proteins: RTP and REEP family of proteins. Receptor Activity Modifying Proteins. Spielman W and Parameswaran N, ed (eds.). Feb 2012.

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