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Jiang Receives Ajinomoto Award for Young Investigators in Gustation

Posted: April 16, 2013

Monell Center molecular neurobiologist Peihua Jiang 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.

“Peihua is a remarkably talented young researcher who has already made multiple major contributions to the field of gustation," said Robert Margolskee, associate director of the Monell Center. "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." 

Jiang has significantly contributed 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 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 loss of taste genes 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.

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 was the 2012 recipient.