Class Year



transduction, olfactory pathway, ligand, odorant discrimination, Olfactory neuron recognition profile


Mammals can discern thousands of molecularly different odorants as well as changes in their concentrations. How the olfactory recognizes such a large number of smells was not very well understood. The initial perception of smell occurs in the olfactory epithelium, which transmits information to the major olfactory bulb, and ultimately to the olfactory cortex via olfactory sensory neurons. This is the basic structure of the olfactory system. We sought to find the underlying mechanisms and tools that allow for the translation of these chemical odorants into the perception of smell. Our studies focused on finding the separate families of olfactory receptors used in the olfactory epithelium to recognize the immense number of odorants. Our studies of the olfactory epithelium, the major olfactory bulb, and the OC have focused on how this immense amount of information from the olfactory sensory neurons is organized at various steps in the discrimination process. We have discovered a novel family of odorant receptors as well as many other subfamilies through genetic analysis. We have also discovered a highly organized stereotypical map in the olfactory epithelium and the major olfactory bulb, as well as distinct patterns of activation in the olfactory cortex. Through the ability to trace specific neuronal circuits, we have studied the distinct odorant receptors patterns when exposed to distinct odorant types or mixtures. Our research in the field of olfaction has led to many discoveries in both mechanisms of odor perception and how that perception is ultimately organized to perceive odor.


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