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Luis Saraiva


Adjunct Associate Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Principal Investigator – Associate Level, Sidra Medicine, Qatar


Ph.D., Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany

Research Summary

Humans, like most animals, display complex behaviors and social structures. Complex behaviors are highly variable between individuals, resulting from the interplay between an individual’s innate qualities, internal homeostatic state, and experiences with the surrounding environment. Despite being a very active field of study, the neurobiological basis of complex behaviors (and how it can lead to changes that ultimately may result in disease or mortality) still remains one of the greatest unanswered questions in modern neuroscience. Understanding how environmental and homeostatic cues interact with sensory systems is crucial to unravel the neural mechanisms underlying the behavioral and physiological responses these cues can elicit.

Broadly, we are interested in the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying the transformation of environmental and homeostatic cues in complex behaviors and physiological changes. In this context, a major line of research in our lab involves how the olfactory, metabolic and appetite systems interact, and how these interactions change with diet and disease. We also aim to understand how individual genetic variation, gender, age, and social experience impact these mechanisms. Another major line of research focuses on the molecular and functional logic underlying the rigid spatial organization of the main olfactory system. To achieve these goals, we employ a multidisciplinary experimental approach combining conventional techniques and novel technologies.

Furthermore, we are using “omics” technologies to find biomarkers and link specific variants to complex traits and/or diseases involving olfactory phenotypes (e.g. anosmia/hyposmia, Kallman Syndrome, and others). To this end, we are analyzing human samples and data from countries around the world.

Our ultimate goal is to use these results to learn more about the molecular and functional mechanisms underlying olfaction, and to identify biomarkers that can help us predict the onset and progression of certain illnesses.


Olfaction, transcriptomics, neuroscience, genetics, appetite, obesity, behavioral analysis

Recent Publications

Saraiva, LR*; Aguilera, FRM; Mezzavilla,M; Abou-Moussa, EH; Arayata, CJ; Makhlouf, M; Trimmer, C; Ibarra-Soria, X; Khan, M; van Gerven, L; Jorissen, M; Gibbs, M; O’Flynn, C; McGrane, S; Mombaerts, P; Marioni, JR; Mainland, JD; Logan, DW*. “A transcriptomic atlas of mammalian olfactory mucosae reveals an evolutionary influence on food odor detection in humans”. Science Advances (2019) 5(7):eaax0396.

Manoel, D; Makhlouf, M; Scialdone, A; Saraiva, LR*. “Interspecific variation of olfactory preferences in flies, mice, and humans”. Chemical Senses (2019) 44(1):7-9.

Ibarra-Soria, X; Nakahara, TS; Lilue, J; Jiang, Y; Trimmer, C; Souza, MAA; Netto, PHM; Ikegame, K; Murphy NR; Kusma, M; Kirton, A; Saraiva, LR; Keane, TK; Matsunami, H; Mainland, JD; Papes, F; Logan, DW. “Variation in olfactory neuron repertoires is genetically controlled and environmentally modulated”. eLife (2017) 6:e21476.

Ambrosi, TH; Scialdone, A; Graja, A; Gohlke, S; Jank, A-M; Woelk, L; Fan, H; Logan, DW; Schürmann, A; Saraiva, LR; Schulz, TJ. “Adipocyte accumulation in the bone marrow during obesity and aging impairs stem cell-based hematopoietic and bone regeneration”. Cell Stem Cell (2017) 20: 1–14.

Saraiva, LR; Kondoh, K; Ye,X; Yoon, K-h; Hernandez, M; Buck LB. “Combinatorial effects of odorants on mouse behavior”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2016) 113(23):E3300-6.

Saraiva, LR; Ibarra-Soria, X; Khan, M; Omura, M; Scialdone, A; Mombaerts, P; Marioni, JC; Logan, DW. “Hierarchical deconstruction of mouse olfactory sensory neurons: from whole mucosa to single-cell RNA-seq”. Sci Rep (2015) 5:18178.

Saraiva, LR; Ahuja, G; Syied, A; Ivandicic, I; Marioni, JC; Korsching, SI; Logan, DW. “Molecular and neuronal homology between the olfactory systems of zebrafish and mouse”. Sci Rep (2015) 5: 11487.

Achim, K; Pettit, JB; Saraiva, LR; Gavriouchkina, D; Arendt, D; Marioni, JC. “High-throughput spatial mapping of single-cell RNA-seq data to tissue of origin”. Nat Biotechnol (2015) 33(5): 503-9.

Horowitz, L; Saraiva, LR; Kuang, D; Yoon, K-h; Buck LB. “Olfactory receptor patterning in a higher primate”. J Neurosci (2014) 34(37):12241-12252.

Ibarra-Soria, X; Levitin, MO; Saraiva, LR; Logan, DW. “The olfactory transcriptomes of mice”. PLoS Genet (2014) 10(9): e1004593.

Hussain, A; Saraiva, LR; Ferrero, SD; Ahuja, G; Krishna, VS; Liberles, SD; Korsching SI. “High affinity olfactory receptor for the death-associated odor cadaverine”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2013) 110(48): 19579-84.

Oka, Y; Saraiva, LR; Korsching SI. “Crypt neurons express a single V1R-related ora gene”. Chem Senses (2012) 37(3):219-27.

Nara, K; Saraiva, LR; Ye, X; Buck, LB. “A large-scale analysis of odor coding in the olfactory epithelium”. J Neurosci (2011) 31(25): 9179-91.

Hussain, A; Saraiva, LR; Korsching SI. “Positive selection and the birth of an olfactory receptor clade in teleosts”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2009) 106(11): 4313-8.

Saraiva, LR; Korsching, SI. “A novel olfactory receptor gene family in teleost fish”. Genome Res (2007) 17: 1448-57.

* corresponding
equal contribution

For a complete list of publications see: