Smell and taste centre: combining expertise on smell and taste in health care and research

In The Netherlands, an estimated number of 250.000-300.000 people suffer from a smell and/or taste disorder. These disorders can have a big impact on eating behaviour and can influence quality of life, safety, independence and social life. Wageningen University and Hospital Gelderse Vallei joined their expertise with respect to smell, taste and health care to open the first Smell and taste centre in The Netherlands. The centre combines high quality health care with excellent scientific research.

First Smell and taste centre in The Netherlands
Before opening of the Smell and taste centre, patients in the Netherlands with smell or taste loss had no place to go. Due to the combination of clinical know-how of ENT-physicians at Hospital Gelderse Vallei and research insights from scientists at the division of Human Nutrition department, a unique centre was developed.

Combining research and health care
Patients undergo an extensive clinical examination protocol, which includes systematic testing of their smell and taste ability, as well as nasal endoscopy and a thorough review of their medical history. Furthermore, brain anatomy and functional responses to odors (MRI and EEG) can be examined. Together the results of these examinations lead to a proper diagnosis and prognosis of the complaint. Patients receive information, and where possible treatment. Besides clinical care, the information gathered from these patients leads to innovative scientific research, that may in turn feed back into the clinic, and gives us tools to come up with treatments.

Unique population and equipment
The Smell and taste centre provides a unique opportunity to access large numbers of these patients, to gain insight into the smell and taste system (in health and disease), and how this influences eating behaviour. At the Smell and taste centre, we have access to a 3T-MRI scanner and EEG equipment in combination with an olfactometer, to present odour stimuli in a controlled manner. This enables us to measure functional brain responses to odours, and relate this to for instance to cause or duration of the complaints.

More research: Sensory and metabolic drivers of eating behaviour