Contact Information

(267) 519-4660
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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

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

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.