Scientific discovery is being revolutionized by bringing together concepts and technologies from diverse academic disciplines. The University of Florida’s large, academically diverse faculty places the UF Center for Smell and Taste (UFCST) in an exceptional position to ride this wave of progress. By integrating the broad expertise in the science of smell and taste (collectively, the chemical senses) at the University of Florida, the UFCST is poised to make major advances that will improve the health of Florida’s citizens, increase consumer interest in Florida’s agricultural products, spur the growth of Florida industry, and help UF in its rise to preeminence.
Established in October 1998, the UFCST was organized as a University-wide center to coordinate and promote basic and applied research and education in the chemical senses across traditional academic boundaries. The UFCST applies this broad knowledge base to create a unique opportunity to advance discovery, application, and education in the chemical senses that can serve the state, the Southeast, and the nation.
As a University-wide center, the UFCST reports directly to the Vice President for Research, Dr. David Norton. The UFCST is closely partnered with the McKnight Brain Institute, which shares the UFCST’s University-wide perspective in addition to housing the Center’s administrative office. Members of the UFCST are distributed throughout UF in the academic units where they hold their fiscal appointments. Currently, the UFCST’s membership includes over 50 faculty members, along with their postdoctoral associates, graduate students and staff, from 27 different departments within seven different colleges, including the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health and Human Performance, Agriculture, and Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Many UFCST members are also affiliated with other interdisciplinary units, such as the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Genetics Institute, the Brain Institute, the Institute on Aging, the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience and the Emerging Pathogens Institute. Additionally, the UFCST is partnered with chemosensory scientists at Florida State University and several other Florida institutions, thus facilitating new advances in smell and taste science across the State.
Steven D. Munger, PhD, Director. Dr. Munger is a Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and of Medicine and serves as Vice-Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. The Director is responsible for the overall day to day operation of the Center as well as fostering animal research. He reports directly to the Vice President for Research. Other responsibilities include facilitating communication between UFCST members, outreach to the public and the media, and promoting training in the chemical senses. Dr. Munger received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida and postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on the molecular basis of odor and taste detection and transduction. Dr. Munger has held a number of medical school and scientific society leadership positions, including several elected positions within the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (http://achems.org), the leading scientific society for the study of smell and taste.
Barry W. Ache, PhD, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Ache is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and of Neuroscience. Dr. Ache received his PhD at the University of California Santa Barbara. Since starting his career he has been actively involved in basic research in the chemical senses, focusing primarily on olfactory physiology and the cellular events associated with olfactory transduction. He has held numerous national and international leadership positions in the field, including serving on the National Advisory Council of NIH’s Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov), the government’s primary supporter of chemical senses research. Through 2015, Dr. Ache served as the UFCST’s Director.
Linda Bartoshuk, PhD, Director of Psychophysical Research. Dr. Bartoshuk is the Bushnell Professor of Food Science and Nutrition. She is responsible for fostering both basic and clinically-oriented human psychophysical research. Dr. Bartoshuk received her PhD at Brown University and subsequent postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University. She is an international leader in taste research and a pioneer in developing new methods of psychophysical scaling. She has served on numerous chemical senses advisory panels and committees over many years. Dr. Bartoshuk is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Internal Advisory Committee
The Center is advised on organizational matters and its relationship to the University community by an Internal Advisory Committee. The Committee is composed of the Research Deans of the colleges most relevant to the mission of the Center: the Colleges of Agriculture (IFAS), Dentistry, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Medicine. The Director of the McKnight Brain Institute serves as the Chair of the Committee. The Committee meets annually, or at the discretion of the Chair. The Committee currently consists of:
Dr. Tetsuo Ashizawa, Executive Director, Brain Institute (Chair)
Dr. Douglas Archer, Assoc. Dean for Research, Institute of Food and Agricultural Science
Dr. Robert Burne, Assoc. Dean for Research, College of Dentistry
Dr. Jennifer S. Curtis, Assoc. Dean for Research, College of Engineering
Dr. Ata Sarajedini, Assoc. Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts and Science
Dr. Stephen Sugrue, Senior Assoc. Dean for Research, College of Medicine
External Advisory Committee
The Center is establishing an External Advisory Committee, which will provide advise on scientific and organizational matters and future scientific directions. The Committee will be composed of three external scientists who will serve staggered, rotating 3 year terms.
The UFCST is committed to education and training in the chemical senses to help assure the next generation of chemosensory scientists as well as to increase the awareness of chemosensory disorders among clinicians. UFCST members participate in the education of undergraduate, graduate and professional students across the campus through lectures, small group and mentoring activities. Additionally, the UFCST offers a regular seminar series during the academic year that brings in leading chemosensory scientists from around the world to discuss their research and meet with faculty, postdoctoral and student trainees. Semiweekly discussion groups allow members to explore new ideas emerging from the literature. Finally, annual colloquia at UF and in conjunction with chemosensory researchers at Florida State University offer the opportunity to explore current research and establish new mentoring relationships.