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Julie Mennella


Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center


Ph.D., Biopsychology; The University of Chicago
M.S., Biospychology; The University of Chicago
M.S., Biology; DePaul University

Research Summary

Dr. Mennella’s research program focuses on the role of early experiences on food and flavor preferences and growth and the effects of alcohol and tobacco on women’s health and infant development. Current research studies focus on the following areas: 1) how maternal diet alters the aromatic profiles of amniotic fluid and mother’s milk and how such early flavor experiences affect food preferences during weaning and childhood; 2) elucidation of sensitive periods in flavor learning and developing evidence-based strategies to promote acceptance of fruits and vegetables among children; 3) determine the behavioral and physiologic mechanisms by which diet composition affects energy balance and growth in infants studying the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of alcohol in women; 4) determine effects of age and genotype on taste sensitivity and preference across the lifespan; 5) determine efficacy of strategies of reducing bitter taste in children and impact taste has on medication compliance and acceptance; and 6) effects of alcohol and tobacco use during lactation on various aspects of women’s health, lactational performance and mother-child interaction. In addition to her research, she founded and then directed a program at Monell Center from 1991-2007 that encouraged under-represented minority high school and undergraduate students to pursue careers in science and medicine. Dr. Mennella has held a number of leadership positions in professional scientific societies and working groups at the National Institutes of Health and other international scientific and health organizations. She is the recipient of several grants from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the author or co-author of numerous peer-reviewed research papers and an internationally recognized speaker on the ontogeny of flavor preferences and its implications for health and nutritional programming.


taste, flavor, fruits, vegetables, lactation, formula, growth, development, infants, children, addiction, psychophysics, endocrinology, pharmacokinetics, mother-child interaction

Recent Publications

Mennella, J.A.; Bobwoski, N.L. (2015) The sweetness and bitterness of childhood: Insights from basic research on taste preferences. Physiology and Behavior, S0031-9384(15)00298-X. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.015.

Wahlqvist, M.L.; Krawetz, S.A.; Rizzo, N.S.; Dominguez-Bello, M.G.; Szymanski, L.M.; Barkin, S.; Yatkine, A.; Waterland, R.A.; Mennella, J.A.; Desai, M.; Ross, M.G.; Krebs, N.F.; Young, B.E.; Wardle, J.; Wrann, C.D.; Kral, J.G. (2015) Early-life influences on obesity: from preconception to adolescence. Ann N Y Acad Sci., 1347(1), 1-28. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12778. PMC4522218

Bobowski, N.L.; Mennella, J.A. (2015) Disruption in the relationship between blood pressure and salty taste thresholds among overweight and obese children. (2015) Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1272-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.017. PMC4516697

Mennella, J.A.; Reed, D.R.; Roberts, K.M.; Mathew, P.S.; Mansfield, C.J. (2015) “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”: bitter masking by sucrose among children and adults. Chemical Senses, 40(1), 17-25. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bju053. PMC4270254

Ventura, A.; Inamdar, L.; Mennella, J.A. (2015) Consistency in infants' behavioural signalling of satiation during bottle-feeding. Pediatric Obesity, 10(3), 180-720. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.250. PMC4282834

Mennella, J.A.; Reed, D.R.; Roberts, K.R.; Mathew, P.S.; Mansfield, C.J. (2014) Age-related differences in bitter taste and efficacy of bitter blockers. PLoS ONE, 9(7), e103107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103107. PMC4106902

Mennella, J.A. (2014) Ontogeny of taste preferences: basic biology and implications for health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(3), 704S-711S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.067694. PMC3927698

Mennella, J.A.; Trabulsi, J.; Inamdar, L. (2014) The sensory world of formula-fed infants: Differences among artificial milk feedings in flavor learning and satiety. In: Preedy, V.R. (Ed.), Dietary and Nutritional Aspects of Bottle Feeding. Wageningen Academic Publishers, pp 95-116.

Mennella, J.A.; Finkbeiner, S.; Lipchock, S.V.; Hwang, L-D; Reed, R.R. (2014) Preferences for salty and sweet tastes are elevated and related to each other during childhood. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92201. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092201. PMC3956914

Ventura, A.; Inamdar, L.; Mennella, J.A. (2014) A model system to understand satiation and self-regulation of intake during infancy. Pediatric Obesity, 10(3), 180-7. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.250. PMC4282834

Baldéon, M.E.; Mennella, J.A.; Flores, N.; Fornasini, M.; San Gabriel A. (2014) Free amino acid continent in breast milk of adolescent and adult mothers in Ecuador. Springerplus, 3, 104. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-104. PMC3967730

Pepino, Y.P.; Mennella, J.A. (2014) Cigarette smoking and obesity are associated with decreased fat perception in women. Obesity, 22(4), 1050-1055. doi: 10.1002/oby.20697. PMC3968190

Mennella, J.A.; Spector, A.C.; Reed, D.R.; Coldwell, S.E. (2013). The bad taste of medicines: overview of basic research on bitter taste. Clinical Therapeutics, 35(8), 1225-1246. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2013.06.007. PMC3772669

Lipchock, S.V.; Mennella, J.A.; Spielman, A.J.; Reed, D.R. (2013) Human bitter perception correlates with bitter receptor mRNA expression in taste cells. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(4), 1136-1143. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.066688. PMC3778862

Wise, P.; Mennella, J.A.; Finkbeiner, S. (2013) Impaired cough sensitivity in children of smokers. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 15(2), 603-7. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts/198.

Fisher, J.O.; Mennella, J.A.; Hughes, S.O.; Liu, Y.; Mendoza, P.M.; Patrick, H. (2013) Offering “dip” promotes intake of a moderately-liked raw vegetable among preschoolers with genetic sensitivity to bitterness. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112 (2): 235-245. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.032

Mennella, J.A.; Castor, S.M. (2012) Sensitive period in flavor learning: effects of duration of exposure to formula flavors on food likes during infancy. Clinical Nutrition, 31(6), 1022-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.05.005. PMC3434272

Drewnowski, A.; Mennella, J.A.; Johnson, S.; Bellisle, F. (2012) Sweetness and food preference. Journal of Nutrition, 142(6), 1142-8S. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.149575. PMC3738223

Mennella, J.A.; Trabulsi, J.C. (2012) Complementary foods and flavor experiences: setting the foundation. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 60(Suppl 2), 40-50. doi: 10.1159/000335337. PMC3363345

Mennella, J.A.; Finkbeiner, S.; Reed, D.R. (2012) The proof is in the pudding: children prefer lower fat but higher sugar than do mothers. International Journal of Obesity (London), 36(10), 1285-1291. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.51. PMC3429629

Lukasewycz, L.D.; Mennella, J.A. (2012) Lingual tactile acuity and food texture preference in children and their mothers. Food Quality and Preference, 26(1), 58-66. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2012.03.007. PMC3375994

Trabulsi, J.C.; Mennella, J.A. (2012). Diet, sensitive periods in flavor learning and growth. International Review of Psychiatry, 24(3), 219-30. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2012.675573.

Mennella, J.A. (2012) Alcohol use during lactation: Effects on the mother-infant dyad. In: Watson, R.R.; Preedy, V. (Eds). Nutrition and alcohol: Linking nutrient interactions and dietary intake, pp. 63-82.

Lipchock, S.V.; Reed, D.R.; Mennella, J.A. (2012) Relationship between bitter-taste receptor genotype and solid medication formulation usage among young children: a retrospective analysis. Clinical Therapeutics, 34(3), 728-33. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2012.02.006. PMC3341939

Forestell, C.A.; Mennella, J.A. (2012). More than just a pretty face. The relationship between infant’s temperament, food acceptance and mothers’ perceptions of their enjoyment of food. Appetite, 58(3), 1136-42. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.03.005. PMC3340480

Ventura, A.K.; Beauchamp, G.K.; Mennella, J.A. (2012). Infant regulation of intake: the effect of free glutamate content in infant formulas.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(4), 875-81. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.024919. PMC3302362

Pepino, M.Y.; Mennella, J.A. (2012). Habituation to the pleasure elicited by sweetness in lean and obese women. Appetite, 58(3), 800-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.01.026. PMC3340467

Lipchock, S.V.; Reed, D.R.; Mennella, J.A. (2011) The gustatory and olfactory systems during infancy: implications for development of feeding behaviors in the high-risk neonate. Clinics in Perinatology, 38(4), 627-641. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2011.08.008. PMC3223371

Mennella, J.A.; Ventura, A.K. (2011) Early feeding: setting the stage for healthy eating habits. Nestle Nutrition Workshop Ser Pediatr Program, 68, 153-163. doi: 10.1159/000325783

Dalton, P.; Mennella, J.A.; Maute, C.; Castor, S.M.; Silvia-Garcia, A.; Slotkin, J.; Grindle, C.R.; Parkes, W.; Pribitkin, E.A.; Reilley, J.S. (2011) Development of a test to evaluate olfactory function in a pediatric population. Laryngoscope, 121(9), 1843-50. doi: 10.1002/lary.21928. PMC3800736

Ventura, A.K.; Mennella, J.A. (2011) Innate and learned preferences for sweet taste during childhood. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 14(4), 379-84. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328346df65

Beauchamp, G.K.; Mennella, J.A. (2011) Flavor perception in human infants: development and functional significance. Digestion, 83(Suppl 1),1-6. doi: 10.1159/000323397. PMC3202923

Mennella, J.A.; Ventura, A.K.; Beauchamp, G.K. (2011) Differential growth patterns among healthy infants fed protein hydrolysate or cow-milk formulas. Pediatrics, 127(1), 110-118. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1675. PMC3010087

Mennella, J.A.; Lukasewycz, L.D.; Griffith, J.W.; Beauchamp, G.K. (2011) Evaluation of a forced-choice, paired-comparison tracking procedure method for determining taste preferences across the lifespan. Chemical Senses, 36(4), 345-55. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjq134. PMC3073533

Mennella, J.A.; Lukasewycz, L.D.; Castor, S.M.; Beauchamp, G.K. (2011) The timing and duration of a sensitive period in human flavor learning: a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(5), 1019-1024. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.003541. PMC3076653

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y.; Duke F.; Reed D.R. (2011) Psychophysical dissection of genotype effects on human bitter perception TAS2R38. Chemical Senses, 36(2), 161-7. Doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjq106. PMC3020389

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y.; Duke F.; Reed D.R. (2010) Age modifies the genotype-phenotype relationship for the bitter receptor TAS2R38. BMC Genetics, 11, 60. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-11-60. PMC3087510

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y.; Lehmann-Castor, S.M.; Yourshaw, L.M. (2010) Sweet preferences and analgesia during childhood: effects of family history of alcoholism and depression. Addiction, 105(4), 666-675. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02865.x. PMC2993322

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y. (2010).  Breastfeeding and prolactin levels in lactating women with a family history of alcoholism. Pediatrics, 125(5), e1162-70. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3040. PMC2980825

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y. (2010). Breast pumping and lactational state exert differential effects on ethanol pharmacokinetics. Alcohol, 44(2), 141-148. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2009.10.011. PMC2831123

Pepino, M.Y.; Finkbeiner, S.; Beauchamp, G.K.; Mennella, J.A. (2010) Obese women have lower monosodium glutamate taste sensitivity and prefer higher concentrations than normal-weight women. Obesity, 18(5), 959-965. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.493. PMC2987588

Lab Staff

Nuala Bobowski, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow
Ashley Reiter, M.S. – Laboratory Manager
Naomi Pressman, M.S. – Junior Research Specialist
Loma Inamdar, B.S. – Junior Research Specialist
Loran Daniels, M.S. – Senior Research Technician
Phoebe Mathew, B.S. – Senior Research Technician
Susanna Finkbeiner – M.S. Student