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(267) 519-4880
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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

My 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; 6) effects of alcohol and tobacco use during lactation on various aspects of women’s health, lactational performance and mother-child interaction; and 6) determine how parental drinking and smoking impact on the hedonic response to the sensory properties of these drugs during childhood and adolescence. In addition to her research, I 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 is the recipient of grants from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is on numerous committees related to infant nutrition and child health.


taste, flavor, smell, lactation, development, infants, children, addiction, psychophysics, endocrinology, pharmacokinetics

Recent Publications

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, e103107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103107

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

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, 17, e92201. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092201.

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

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.

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

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, 1225-1246. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2013.06.007

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, 1136-1143. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.066688

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, 1285-1291.

Lukasewycz, L.D.; Mennella, J.A. (2012) Lingual tactile acuity and food texture preference in children and their mothers. Food Quality and Preference, 26, 58-66.

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

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.

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, 110-118.

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, 345-55

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, 1019-1024.

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.

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M.Y. (2010). Breast pumping and lactational state exert differential effects on ethanol pharmacokinetics. Alcohol, 44, 141-148.

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, 666-675.

Mennella, J.A.; Pepino, M. Y. (2009). Biphasic effects of alcohol consumption on prolactin in lactating women. Alcohol, 32, 1899-1908.

Field, K.L.; Bachmanov, A.A.; Mennella, J.A.; Beauchamp, G.K.; Kimball, B.A. (2009) Protein hydrolysates are avoided by herbivores but not by omnivores in two-choice preference tests. PLoS ONE, 4, e4126.

Lab Staff

Nuala Bobowski, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow
Ashley Reiter, M.S. – Research Coordinator
Loma Inamdar, B.S. – Senior Research Technician
Loran Daniels, M.S. – Senior Research Technician
Naomi Pressman, M.S. – Senior Research Technician
Phoebe Mathew, B.S. – Senior Research Technician
Susanna Finkbeiner – part-time Research Technician, (M.S. Student)
Regina O’Brien – part-time Research Technician (student)