Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smell

aka The Monell Center   |   Philadelphia, PA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 23-2020897


Monell’s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses.

Ruling year info


Executive Director & President

Dr. Benjamin P.C. Smith Ph.D.

Main address

3500 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA

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Subject area info

Medical specialties


Population served info



NTEE code info

Medical Specialty Research (H90)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Tax forms



What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Imagine a future in which physicians use hand-held odor detectors to sniff out the earliest signs of cancer with the same uncanny accuracy that dogs have for detecting bombs and narcotics. Consider the prospect of being able to "train" human taste receptors -- not just on the tongue but in the gut, pancreas and brain -- to promote healthy eating and help curb obesity. Fast forward to a day when we can replace damaged or aging smell receptors in the nose to restore our ability to fully enjoy the wonderful scent of newborns and tantalizing flavors of our favorite foods. These future scenarios are closer than you might think. This is the Monell Center, the only research institute dedicated to understanding the senses of taste and smell, and connecting these fundamental senses to improved nutrition, disease detection and other translations of our basic science to provide a healthier, safer, better tomorrow.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Basic Science at Monell

Monell’s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses.

Core Values
Commitment: We view basic science as the foundation of discovery

An integral part of Monell’s mission involves preparation of the next generation of scientists. Monell’s strong post-doctoral program attracts talented young scientists from a wide range of disciplines. Approximately 20 post-doctoral fellows are trained at the Center each year. Monell fellows go on to contribute to scientific advancement through work in academia, industry and government.

The Center’s highly successful Monell Science Apprenticeship Program (MSAP) for high school and college students is now entering its 34th year. The program aims to stimulate interest in STEM careers among demographic groups underrepresented in science, including females, racial and ethnic minorities, and the economically disadvantaged. MSAP enrolls approximately 25 students each summer.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients reporting increased knowledge after educational programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Young adults

Related Program

Basic Science at Monell

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Based on Monell Science Apprenticeship Program exit surveys

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Monell Center has 4 strategic aims:

1. Improve Nutritional Health
2. Diagnose and Treat Diseases
3. Attach the Loss of Smell and Taste
4. Digitize Smells and Tastes

To unravel these complex interwoven processes, the Center is structured to encourage collaboration among scientists from diverse backgrounds. The Monell Center has no departmental organization; offices and laboratories are not segregated by discipline; and most importantly, the staff is imbued with the ideal of multidisciplinary interaction.

Among the Center's unique areas of expertise:

• Human sensory testing across the lifespan using innovative psychophysical and physiological techniques
• Integration of human sensory perception with molecular biology
• Pioneering techniques to biopsy and maintain living human taste and smell receptor cells for human species-specific study
• Experiential, physiological and genetic determinants of flavor and food preferences across the lifespan
• Stem cell biology to regenerate dysfunctional taste and smell receptor cells
• Focus on taste and smell receptors in extra-oral sites and their relation to health
• Odor communication in health and disease

The Center's research advances fundamental knowledge of taste and smell. In the process, Monell's scientific findings also uncover solutions to pressing problems related to health, the environment and more. Monell scientists helped to identify the sweet taste receptor, a breakthrough that paved the way to current inquiries into how to stimulate, manipulate, enhance, inhibit, and create synergy of sweet taste. In other areas, ongoing Monell research is:

• Demonstrating the key role of prenatal and early postnatal experience in shaping life-long taste, odor, and flavor preferences.
• Utilizing advanced stem cell biology techniques to regenerate smell receptors and develop treatments for smell loss.
• Analyzing the genetics of taste to identify the salt taste receptor, knowledge needed to develop effective salt enhancers and modifiers and help reduce sodium consumption.
• Identifying how body odors can be used for the early non-invasive detection and diagnosis of cancer, infectious disease, and tissue damage.
• Determining how genetic variation in taste and smell receptors influences flavor perception, food choice, nutrition, and health across the lifespan.
• Pioneering studies of odortypes, genetically-determined olfactory markers of individual identity.
• Revealing how short and long-term exposure to air-borne chemicals alter sensory perception and health.
• Probing the mechanism and function of taste and smell receptors located outside the mouth and nose.


Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.25 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.2 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 24% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of MONELL CHEMICAL SENSES CENTER’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$208,613 $350,135 -$574,478 $3,590,006 $18,512,799
As % of expenses -1.8% 2.9% -4.6% 28.0% 120.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$1,161,101 -$609,623 -$1,549,922 $2,504,244 $17,435,083
As % of expenses -9.1% -4.6% -11.6% 18.0% 105.6%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $12,974,476 $13,755,822 $12,478,683 $14,213,713 $35,177,690
Total revenue, % change over prior year 10.3% 6.0% -9.3% 13.9% 147.5%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.9% 0.9% 0.9% 0.8% 0.4%
Government grants 31.2% 36.1% 40.5% 52.4% 25.8%
All other grants and contributions 67.7% 62.8% 57.7% 43.8% 72.4%
Other revenue 0.2% 0.3% 0.9% 3.0% 1.4%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $11,775,589 $12,248,376 $12,356,964 $12,804,172 $15,431,134
Total expenses, % change over prior year -4.6% 4.0% 0.9% 3.6% 20.5%
Personnel 65.1% 65.6% 68.0% 69.2% 62.3%
Professional fees 2.5% 2.6% 1.4% 2.0% 1.9%
Occupancy 8.7% 8.4% 8.1% 8.1% 8.0%
Interest 0.9% 0.8% 0.9% 0.7% 0.6%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 22.9% 22.6% 21.6% 20.0% 27.3%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $12,728,077 $13,208,134 $13,332,408 $13,889,934 $16,508,850
One month of savings $981,299 $1,020,698 $1,029,747 $1,067,014 $1,285,928
Debt principal payment $521,897 $534,691 $0 $76,590 $1,576,574
Fixed asset additions $1,028,365 $0 $0 $1,314,068 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $15,259,638 $14,763,523 $14,362,155 $16,347,606 $19,371,352

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 0.8 1.1 0.5 0.1 5.8
Months of cash and investments 5.0 5.4 4.5 5.8 10.5
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 3.2 2.7 1.7 3.7 16.6
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $798,375 $1,152,807 $562,560 $127,269 $7,464,743
Investments $4,066,238 $4,311,407 $4,095,484 $6,053,942 $6,001,859
Receivables $1,865,859 $2,214,025 $4,733,087 $4,327,488 $14,094,763
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $35,791,096 $35,776,510 $36,074,418 $37,392,546 $38,055,142
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 61.3% 63.4% 65.4% 66.0% 66.7%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 23.4% 20.4% 27.4% 26.7% 12.9%
Unrestricted net assets $14,153,636 $13,544,013 $11,994,091 $14,498,335 $31,933,418
Temporarily restricted net assets $1,786,664 $3,149,285 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $43,608 $43,608 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $1,830,272 $3,192,893 $4,001,889 $2,669,973 $3,164,833
Total net assets $15,983,908 $16,736,906 $15,995,980 $17,168,308 $35,098,251

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director & President

Dr. Benjamin P.C. Smith Ph.D.

An international leader in food and fragrance research, Smith has an extensive track record of building science programs and collaboration across academia, industry, and government. He is also the Director of the Singapore-based A*STAR Innovations in Food & Chemical Safety Programme, as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Food Toxicology and Risk Assessment at Nanyang Technological University. His doctoral training is in environmental toxicology from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Smith has worked at the intersection of taste, smell, and nutrition for most of his career, including senior positions at Firmenich, the worlds largest privately owned flavor and fragrance company. His first stint at Monell was as a postdoctoral fellow from 2002 to 2003 studying behavioral genetics in the lab of Monell Director Emeritus Gary Beauchamp, PhD.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 02/05/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Dr. David Macnair

Independent Consultant

Richard Berkman

Ambrose Monell

The Ambrose Monell Foundation & the G. Under Vetlesen Foundation

Maurizio Morello

Fulton Vittoria LLP

David MacNair

Stephen Manheimer


Kevin Foskett

Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Paul Herzan

Vice President and Director, Lily Auchincloss Foundation

Angela Nwaneri

First Cardiology Consultants/FCC Healthcare

Judy Wellington

Nancy Rawson

Monell Chemical Senses Center

Susan de Mars

US Pharmacopeia

Banjamin P.C. Smith

Monell Chemical Senses Center

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/5/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/18/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.


Fiscal year ending

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser