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Senior Investigator

Nicholas Ryba, D.Phil.

Laboratory of Sensory Biology
Building 10 Room 1A24
35 Convent Drive MSC3757
Bethesda MD 20892-1188
Office: (301) 402-2401

Fax: (301) 480-3590

Dr. Ryba received his degrees in Biochemistry (B.A., 1982 and D. Phil., 1986) from Oxford University, Oxford, UK. He completed post-doctoral training at the Max-Planck-Institut-für-biophysikalishe-Chemie in Göttingen, Germany and the University of Leeds, UK under the guidance of Drs. Derek Marsh and John Findlay. In 1991, he joined NIDR (now NIDCR) to establish an independent group studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the perception of taste and smell. He now heads the Laboratory of Oral Sensory Biology, NIDCR and his group focuses primarily on understanding the biology of taste.

The sense of taste is responsible for detecting sweet, bitter, sour, salty and savory (umami or amino acid) stimuli. It is also capable of distinguishing between these various taste modalities to generate innate behavioral responses. For instance, animals are vigorously averse to bitter-tasting compounds, but are attracted to sweet and umami stimuli. In a wide ranging collaboration with Charles Zuker's group at UCSD, we have begun to define the components and the organization required for taste responses initially focusing on the taste receptors and taste receptor cells themselves. In addition to identifying the receptors for sweet, bitter and umami tastes, we have demonstrated that sweet, sour, bitter and umami are each encoded by the activation of very selectively tuned taste receptor cells. Our findings strongly suggest that labeled lines transmit taste sensory information from the periphery to the brain and make it possible to consider tracing the complete circuitry for each modality. The critical next steps in deciphering the organization and function of the taste system are to define the cells and receptors for salty taste, to determine the molecular basis for sour recognition and to map the connectivity pathways between taste receptor cells and afferent fibers.

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  • 1) Huang AL, Chen X, Hoon MA, Chandrashekar J, Guo W, Tränkner D, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (2006)
  • The cells and logic for mammalian sour taste detection
  • Nature , 442, 934-938
  • 2) Mueller KL, Hoon MA, Erlenbach I, Chandrashekar J, Zuker CS, Ryba NJP (2005)
  • The receptors and coding logic for bitter taste
  • Nature , 434, 225-229
  • 3) Zhao GQ, Zhang Y, Hoon MA, Chandrashekar J, Erlenbach I, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (2003)
  • The receptors for mammalian sweet and umami taste
  • Cell, 115, 255-266
  • 4) Zhang Y, Hoon MA, Chandrashekar J, Mueller KL, Cook B, Wu D, Zuker CS, Ryba NJP (2003)
  • Coding of sweet, bitter, and umami tastes: different receptor cells sharing similar signaling pathways
  • Cell , 112, 293-301
  • 5) Nelson G, Chandrashekar J, Hoon MA, Feng L, Zhao G, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (2002)
  • An amino-acid taste receptor
  • Nature , 416, 199-202
  • 6) Nelson G, Hoon MA, Chandrashekar J, Zhang Y, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (2001)
  • Mammalian sweet taste receptors
  • Cell , 106, 381-390
  • 7) Chandrashekar J, Mueller KL, Hoon MA, Adler E, Feng L, Guo W, Zuker CS, Ryba NJP (2000)
  • T2Rs function as bitter taste receptors
  • Cell , 100, 703-711
  • 8) Adler E, Hoon MA, Mueller KL, Chandrashekar J, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (2000)
  • A novel family of mammalian taste receptors
  • Cell , 100, 693-702
  • 9) Hoon MA, Adler E, Lindemeier J, Battey JF, Ryba NJP, Zuker CS (1999)
  • Putative mammalian taste receptors: a class of taste-specific GPCRs with distinct topographic selectivity
  • Cell , 96, 541-551
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