Monell’s collaborative philosophy pervades the Center’s laboratories and hallways and extends to the outside world: valuable partners from the realms of academia, government, and industry add depth and breadth to the Center’s research efforts.
Multidisciplinary science at Monell
From the start, Monell’s science has been predicated on a true multidisciplinary approach. Monell researchers – psychologists, chemists, neuroscientists, biologists, geneticists and others – collaborate toward the common objective of a comprehensive understanding of taste and smell. Monell has no departmental structure; its laboratories and offices are not segregated by discipline, and most importantly, its staff is imbued with the ideal of multidisciplinary interaction.
Monell’s external collaborative network is extensive, bringing added strength and expertise to the Center’s research mission. Scientists from outside institutions who have particulaly strong collaborative ties are appointed to become members of the Affiliate Faculty.
Since its inception, the Monell Center has been closely associated with the University of Pennsylvania. Originally established as an institute at Penn, Monell now operates as an independent nonprofit organization, but retains many ties with the University.
Members of Monell’s faculty hold adjunct appointments in departments and schools throughout Penn, including the Schools of Medicine (Dermatology, Neuroscience), Veterinary Medicine (Anatomy, Animal Biology, Biochemistry), and Dental Medicine (Anatomy and Cellular Biology), and the College of Arts and Sciences (Psychology).
Monell scientists are members of and provide leadership for several Penn institutes, including the Institute of Neurological Sciences, the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, the Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, and the Genome Frontiers Institute.
Penn’s Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) is available to Monell researchers for clinical studies. A member of Monell’s faculty sits on Penn’s IRB, which oversees research protocols from both institutions.
Many Monell scientists engage in rich collaborations with Penn faculty, including projects with researchers in the departments of Dermatology; Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery; Occupational and Environmental Medicine; Psychiatry; Medicine; Cardiology; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Bioengineering; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; and Psychology.
Penn faculty members frequently present at Monell’s in-house seminar series, facilitating the formation of productive collaborations. Similarly, Monell researchers regularly attend and present at Penn seminars and colloquia, and also lecture to classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Another long and successful collaboration involves the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Continuously funded since 1986, the Monell-Jefferson Chemosensory Clinical Research Center (CCRC) brings together research scientists from Monell and physician-researchers from Jefferson to advance understanding of clinical issues related to taste and smell. Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the Monell-Jefferson CCRC represents the only chemosensory clinical research center currently supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Additional past and present research projects have involved collaborations with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Wistar Institute, and also with researchers and clinicians at other local institutions, including Drexel University, Rutgers, Swarthmore College and the Nemours/Dupont Hospital for Children.
Since its inception, Monell has been at the vanguard of successful academic-industry partnerships. Today, over 50 companies from around the world help support Monell’s basic research through the Center’s Corporate Sponsorship program. Interactions with the Center’s corporate sponsors provide Monell scientists with insights into real-world problems, and contribute a different perspective from that typically seen in purely academic institutions.
Monell’s major source of funding comes from competitive government research grants, primarily through the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, which provides support for both research and training.
Among the other NIH institutes that currently fund Monell’s biomedical research are the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Many of Monell scientists serve NIH and the greater scientific community as members of NIH study sections and committees.
Additional federal support comes from the Veteran’s Administration and the Department of Defense; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also provides funding for targeted projects.
Monell has a long-standing cooperative agreement with the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center. To date, almost 200 publications on bird and wildlife chemical senses have resulted from the Monell-USDA affiliation, disseminating information on the biology and behavior of many animal and avian species along with knowledge to aid in effective management of wildlife resources.
Foundation support is essential for Monell’s research and training programs. The Center especially recognizes the key role of The Ambrose Monell Foundation, which provided start-up funding in the 1960s and continues to actively guide and support the Center’s mission.