Richard Axel, M.D.

Richard Axel, M.D.

Research Interest

Mammals possess an olfactory system of inordinate discriminatory power. We are studying how the diversity and specificity of olfactory perception is accomplished. Our analysis of the patterns of expression of the odorant receptor genes, coupled with earlier electrophysiologic experiments have provided a logic for olfactory discrimination. Individual olfactory sensory neurons express only one of a thousand receptor genes. Neurons expressing a given receptor, although randomly distributed in domains in the epithelium, project their axons to a small number of topographically fixed loci or glomeruli in the olfactory bulb. These data support a model of olfactory coding in which discrimination of odor quality would result from the detection of specific spatial patterns of activity in the olfactory bulb.

  • AB, Molecular Biology, Columbia University
  • MD, Johns Hopkins Medical School
  • Internship: Columbia University
  • Fellowship: Columbia University

Member, The Kavli Institute for Brain Science

  • 2004, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • 2015 Gore F, Schwartz EC, Brangers BC, Aladi S, Stujenske JM, Likhtik E, Russo MJ, Gordon JA, Salzman CD, Axel R. Neural Representations of Unconditioned Stimuli in Basolateral Amygdala Mediate Innate and Learned Responses. Cell 162(1):134-45. 
  • 2014 Aso Y, Hattori D, Yu Y, Johnston RM, Iyer NA, Ngo TT, Dionne H, Abbott LF, Axel R, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM. The neuronal architecture of the mushroom body provides a logic for associative learning. Elife. 3:e04577. 
  • 2008 Fleischmann, A., B.M. Shykind, D.L. Sosulski, K.M. Franks, M.E. Glinka, D-F., Mei, Y. Sun, J. Kirkland, M., M. Mendelsohn, M.W. Albers, and R. Axel. Mice with a “Monoclonal: Nose": Perturbations in an Olfactory Map Impair Odor Discrimination. Neuron 60:1068-1081.
  • 2008 Datta. S.R., M.L.Vasconcelos, V. Ruta, S. Luo, A. Wong, E. Demir, J. Flores, K. Balonze, B.J.Dickson, and R. Axel. The Drosophila pheromone cVA activates a sexually dimorphic neural circuit. Nature 452:473-477.
  • 2008 Barnea, G., W. Strapps, G. Herrada, Y. Berman, J. Ong, B. Kloss, R. Axel, and K. J. Lee. The genetic design of signaling cascades to record receptor activation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA (December 28, 2007, Published Ahead of Print) 105(1) 64-69.
  • 2007 Mancia, F., S. Brenner-Morton, R. Siegel, Z. Assur, Y. Sun, Y, I. Schieren, M. Mendelsohn, R. Axel, and W. Hendrickson. Production and characterization of monoclonal antibodies sensitive to conformation in the 5HT2c serotonin receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 104: 4303-4308
  • 2006 Lomvardas, S., G. Barnea., D.J. Pisapia,, and R. Axel. Interchromosomal interaction and olfactory receptor choice. Cell, 126:403-413.
  • 2004 Suh, S.B., A.M. Wong, A.C. Hergarden, J.W. Wang, A. Simon, S. Benzer, R. Axel, and D.J. Anderson. A single population of olfactory sensory neurons mediates an innate avoidance behavior in Drosophila. Nature 431:854-859.
  • 2004 Shah, N.M., D. Pisapia., S. Maniatis, M. Mendelsohn, A. Nemes, and R. Axel. Visualizing sexual dimorphism in the brain. Neuron 43:313-319.

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