PHILADELPHIA (April 15, 2013) - Monell Center molecular neurobiologist Peihua Jiang, PhD, is the 2013 recipient of the Ajinomoto Award for Young Investigators in Gustation, an annual award presented by the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) to an exceptional junior scientist who is a rising leader in the field of gustation.
Jiang has made significant contributions to the understanding of the structure and function of taste receptor proteins and genes, and the identification and characterization of previously elusive adult taste stem cells.
A recent publication in Stem Cells described groundbreaking work on the identification of taste stem cells, which were localized under taste papillae by using stains for the stem cell marker, Lgr5. Additional studies revealed that the Lgr5-expressing stem cells were capable of becoming any one of the three major types of mature taste cell. The findings have implications for patients with loss of taste function.
Another branch of Jiang's work has examined the genetics underlying the loss of taste qualities in certain mammalian species and the relationships among taste receptor structure, dietary choice, and associated metabolic pathways. Jiang was recently awarded a five-year grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health to support this work.
"Peihua is a remarkably talented young researcher who has already made multiple major contributions to the field of gustation. His recent work on taste stem cells has identified previously mysterious cells and opened up the field to new studies with practical applications. He is an outstanding scientist whose research will continue to produce important discoveries," said Robert Margolskee, MD, PhD, Associate Director of the Monell Center.
Jiang joined Monell, where he currently holds the title of Assistant Member, in 2009. He received his PhD in neurobiology from the University of Pittsburgh and has held research positions at Redpoint Bio and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
The award will be presented on the opening night of the 2013 AchemS Annual Meeting in Huntington Beach, CA. Monell faculty member Ichiro Matsumoto, PhD, was the 2012 recipient.
AChemS is an international association with over 1300 members that advances understanding of the senses of taste and smell.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For 45 years, Monell has advanced scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit http://www.