Partnership Showcase UC's Research and Innovation
Published April 2006
Research and innovation at UC come in all shapes, sizes —and yes, even smells. Jim Eliassen, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and associate director of UC’s Center for Imaging Research, has teamed up with Robert Frank, PhD, professor and director of the taste and smell lab in the department of psychology, to learn more about how our brain responds to smell.
This collaboration is just one of the more than 350 innovative projects that will be on display in UC’s Tangeman University Center during Showcase 2006.
This two-day event is aimed at “ showcasing” UC’s transformational impact through posters, demonstrations, exhibits and a series of panel discussions.
Drs. Eliassen and Frank hope that by putting their work on display, local companies might find the value in teaming up on future projects.
Research into the brain’s response to tastes and smells, they say, could benefit everyone from the perfume to the food production industry.
Oftentimes, says Dr. Eliassen, companies rely on focus groups to distinguish pleasurable tastes and smells from the not-so-pleasurable ones.
“Studies have shown that focus groups aren’t always the most reliable source of feedback,” he adds.
“And we all know that branding impacts the way we view, or smell in this case, a product.”
Drs. Eliassen and Frank work together to learn more about how the brain “nose” what smells good.
Using neuroimaging, the researchers can actually see what types of smells our brain prefers.
Patients lie in an MRI scanner wearing what looks like a surgical mask with tubes in it. Through the tubes, they are exposed to various smells. When two different smells are compared, and one smell is preferred over another, regions of the brain associated with preference become more active.
Seeing the brain’s response to smells, says Dr. Eliassen, could help companies in product development.
It is for this reason that Dr. Eliassen is excited about Showcase 2006.
“Faculty all across campus have some pretty innovative work going on,” he says. “Having a chance to display that work to potential industry collaborators could really open new doors for possible funding and venture capital projects.”
Showcase 2006 is a free event open to business leaders and the general community. For more information, call (513) 558-6054 or visit www.uc.edu/showcase.