James Sharer: Olfactory Tests

Posted: September 13, 2014 in Education, Society

James Sharer is a student at Pennsylvania State University majoring in Biology, with a Vertebrate Physiology Option. He is planning on going to medical school after he graduates in 2016.

To get as much practical experience as he can before going on to medical school, James Sharer served as a research intern for Dr. Richard L. Doty, the Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center. “As a research intern, I managed databases using statistical software including SYSTAT and SPSS,” James Sharer explained. “I also worked with patients administering various olfactory tests.”

The University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste Center is a world-renowned center for both its research and its clinical activities. It is the first NIH-funded center in the United States that is devoted entirely to the senses of taste and smell. The sense of smell, or olfactory, can be important in determining the validity of a patient’s complaint, James Sharer has learned. It is also important in determining the nature of the problem, and monitoring functions over time.

Research interns perform valuable work for the institute they are involved in, and also get great experience in the career they are thinking about. The intern program that James Sharer was involved in was coordinated by the research staff at the Smell and Taste Center. The Center provides clinical evaluation, treatment, and counseling for those patients who are experiencing smelling problems, along with providing facilities for research in basic and applied features of chemosensation. The center also provides training for students, such as James Sharer.


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