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October 12, 2017

Jefferson, Monell Center announce merger plans to advance sensory research

Business Mergers
011315_Jefferson_Carroll Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia.

Jefferson Health and the world-renowned Monell Chemical Senses Center on Thursday announced their plans to merge organizations, creating a unified research body that will advance discoveries in the realm of the senses and translate findings into clinical practice. 

The Monell Center, founded in Philadelphia in 1966, is the world's leading authority on the senses of taste and smell. Its interdisciplinary research has contributed to improvements in our approach to human nutrition, health and well-being, significantly shaping behavioral and industrial aspects of public policy. 

“We will be able to go further than ever before to link the senses to health,” said Stephen K. Klasko, president and CEO of Jefferson Health. “When you combine our clinical work with the entrepreneurial, academic environment of our university, the groundbreaking research that occurs at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and now add the esteemed Monell Center into the mix, this is how you improve lives.”

Merger discussions formed out of a productive, decades-long relationship between Jefferson's clinical otolaryngology (ENT) department and the Monell Center. Their collaboration has led to research advances in chemosensory dysfunction and anosmia (loss of the sense of smell), taste loss from radiation in head and neck cancer patients and the effects of noxious fume exposure on olfactory function of firefighters and other first responders. 

“This partnership would bring together two outstanding Philadelphia institutions with a shared vision of making the world a healthier place for us all,” said Robert F. Margolskee, president and director of the Monell Center. “The tremendous synergies between Monell and Jefferson will enable us to build on our combined strengths in basic science and stem cell biology and translate them into clinical practice. Together, our research will identify solutions to nutrition-related diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease, and also extend to address cancer, infectious disease, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia.”

The letter of intent to merge comes as the Monell Center, founded by Ambrose Monell, prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Jefferson has expanded from a Philadelphia-based academic medical center to a 13-hospital regional network and a university recently bolstered by its merger with Philadelphia University. 

“As Monell looks forward to our next half-century, a partnership with Jefferson would take advantage of the intertwined missions of our two organizations to grow the developing connections that link the senses with human health,” said Dwight Riskey, chair of the Monell Center Board of Directors.

“This proposed combination offers both institutions the opportunity to expand into new areas of research and collaborations that will advance our respective missions and add value to students, patients and society,” added Stephen Spinelli Jr., chancellor of Thomas Jefferson University. “It combines Jefferson’s deep focus on research and patient care with Monell’s world-renowned expertise on how senses impact quality of life and overall health.”

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