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NIDCD Olfaction Grantees Elected to National Academy of Sciences

NIDCD grantees John R. Carlson, Ph.D., and Liqun Luo, Ph.D., were recently elected members of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Dr. John Carlson
Dr. John Carlson

Dr. Liqun  Luo
Dr. Liqun Luo

Dr. Carlson is the Eugene Higgins professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University. His research has advanced our understanding of the function of taste and smell in insect model systems. "Each year, hundreds of millions of people suffer from diseases such as malaria that are transmitted by insects, and enormous damage is done to the world's food supply by insect pests," said Dr. Carlson.

His work has uncovered molecular and cellular mechanisms by which flies and mosquitoes identify food sources and human odors. His laboratory identified 60 odor receptor genes of the fruit fly, and a family of 60 genes that encode taste receptors. This knowledge may lead to new ways of controlling insect-borne diseases, disease vectors, and the safety of the world's food supply.

Dr. Luo is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in neurobiology and professor of biology and neurobiology at Stanford University. His research has helped us better understand the intrinsic connectivity of the developing brain. “Many neurological and psychiatric disorders originate from improper wiring of the brain,” said Dr. Luo.

His studies focus on the exquisite wiring of a part of the nervous system that supports the sense of smell. Smell dysfunction often accompanies neurological disorders, and an understanding of the wiring underlying smell may help in our understanding of wiring problems in other neurological disorders. In addition, his team has identified key molecules that play a role in the neural circuitry associated with a variety of dementias and motor disorders. His work is also supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and technology and using those advances for the general welfare. Election to the Academy is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a scientist or engineer. This year’s class includes a total of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries.