Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sense of Smell Study Wants Your Nose

After reading The Sense of Smell: Using it or Losing it a Glass Petal Smoke reader wanted to know if there were any olfactory studies taking place in New York City. This is, after all, the city where Dr. Richard Axel and Dr. Linda Buck conducted research that led to their 2004 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Think you can smell and live in New York City? The Rockefeller University Smell Study seeks to recruit normal subjects to track down the genetic basis of how we perceive and distinguish similar smells. They have been conducting smell studies for the last seven years at the Vosshall Lab in New York City.

The Vosshall Lab was founded by Dr. Leslie B. Vosshall, an HHMI Investigator and Robin Chemers Neustein Professor. Dr. Vosshall conducted postdoctoral research with Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University. She returned to Rockefeller in 2000 to establish the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior.

If you peruse the Vosshall Lab site you'll get a taste of research culture which includes a Flickr photostream for the Vosshall Lab. Pictures from a recent barbeque show that scientists can do a lot more than light up Bunsen burners.

A complete description of The Rockefeller University Smell Study, including candidate requirements, can be found here. The study pays $80.

Other smell and taste studies can be found on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website.  To initiate a search go to the page for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders. From there click on "clinical trials". Proceed by clicking on NIDCD Studies Seeking Patients. Use the search bar on the upper right hand page to ferret out studies based on smell or taste (including anosmia). Open trials are noted as "recruiting" in green typeface.

Research Match is a wonderful tool for finding out about clinical trials in your area. You can register online or use the search box on the left side of the page to target specific studies of interest.

Dr. Thomas Hummel, a researcher who investigated smell training for recovering anosmics in 2009, is conducting a new smell study in Dresden with his colleague, Dr. Volker Gudziol. They are testing a drug to see if it can increase the sense of smell in patients who meet the study's criteria (hyposmic and anosmic patients only). Click here for more details on the study.

Photo of the "smell" sign is from The Rockefeller University website. Rights revert back to the owner.