Contact Information

(267) 519-4660
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Joel Mainland


Louise Slade Assistant Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania


Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley

Research Summary

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.


Olfaction, psychophysics, cell culture, neuroscience, genetics, behavioral analysis

Recent Publications

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.

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

Lunde, K.; Egelandsdal, B.; Skuterud, E.; Mainland, J.D.; Lea, T.; Hersleth, M. & Matsunami, H. (2012) Genetic variation of an odorant receptor OR7D4 and sensory perception of cooked meat containing androstenone. PLOS ONE, 7, e35259.

McRae, J.F.*; Mainland, J.D.*; Jaeger, S.R.; Adipietro, K.A.; Matsunami, H.; Newcomb, R.D. (2012) Genetic variation in the odorant receptor OR2J3 is associated with the ability to detect the ‘grassy’ smelling odor, cis-3-hexen-1-ol. Chemical Senses, 37, 585-593. (* These authors contributed equally to this work)

Adipietro, K. A.; Mainland, J.D.; and Matsunami, H. (2012) Functional evolution of mammalian odorant receptors. PLoS Genetics. 8, e1002821.

Saito, H.*; Chi, Q.; Zhuang, H.; Matsunami, H.; Mainland, J.D.* (2009) Odor coding by a mammalian receptor repertoire. Science Signaling, 2, ra9. (* These authors contributed equally to this work)

Mainland, J.D.; Sobel, N. (2006) The sniff is part of the olfactory percept. Chemical Senses, 31, 181-196.

Mainland, J.D.; Johnson, B.N.; Khan, R.; Ivry, R.B.; Sobel, N. (2005) Olfactory impairments in patients with unilateral cerebellar lesions are selective to inputs from the contralesional nostril. The Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 6362-6371.

Mainland, J.D.; Bremner, E.A.; Young, N.; Johnson, B.N.; Khan, R.M.; Bensafi, M.; Sobel, N. (2002) Olfactory plasticity: One nostril knows what the other nostril learns. Nature, 419, 802.