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Randall R. Reed, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Randall R. Reed, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Center for Sensory Biology

Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics

Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and neurogenesis in the olfactory system


Dr. Randall R. Reed is a professor of molecular biology and genetics and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He serves as co-director of the Center for Sensory Biology, and his research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and neurogenesis in the olfactory system.

Dr. Reed received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1977, and completed his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1981. After a postdoctoral fellowship in genetics at Harvard University Medical School, he joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 1984 as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor in 1989, and accepted the title of full professor in 1992.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Reed has received numerous awards and guest lectureships. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and has presented his work at conferences and symposiums around the world. more


  • Co-Director, Center for Sensory Biology
  • Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Professor of Neuroscience
  • Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery



  • B.A., Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) (1977)
  • Ph.D., Yale University (Connecticut) (1981)

Additional Training

Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1981, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Harvard University Medical School, Boston, MA, 1984, Genetics

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Reed and his colleagues are identifying the pathways responsible for converting smells into signals perceived by the brain and the role of these genes in wiring this extraordinary sensory system. The laboratory also studies the remarkable ability of the nerve cells in the nose to be continually replaced throughout adult life and respond to environmental or traumatic injury by complete neuronal regeneration from identified stem cells.

Integrating genetics, physiology, biochemistry, and imaging in the Reed laboratory provides the framework for understanding how sensory systems achieve their incredible sensitivity and specificity in normal individuals and how diseases, aging and environmental assault interfere with these processes.


The olfactory system provides a unique opportunity to observe processes in adults that, in other neuronal systems, only occur in the embryo. Additionally, the mammalian olfactory system has the remarkable ability to detect a wide variety of odorant molecules with high sensitivity and specificity. Olfactory acuity likely results from the contributions at the levels of anatomy, cellular structure and organization, biochemistry, genetics and neuronal connectivity.

The Reed laboratory uses biochemical and molecular genetic techniques to examine the mechanisms underlying development in the olfactory system, as well as the processes responsible for odorant detection. These studies have revealed an important role for genetic specialization in the olfactory system.

Currently, the laboratory is also exploring the cell and molecular biological specializations and processes that direct transduction components to the sensory cilia where the initial events in olfaction occur. Cilia are important in a wide variety of cell types and organs including brain, kidney and sensory tissues. Genetic diseases in mice and humans are associated with defects in cilia formation and movement of proteins into this organelle.

In parallel, the lab has a long-standing interest in the ability of olfactory neurons to undergo continual replacement throughout adult life. A previously unrecognized cell population within olfactory tissue, the Reed lab has shown that horizontal basal cells retain the capacity to regenerate all of the cell-types within the olfactory epithelium, and ongoing investigations examine the molecules that control this proliferation and maintain cellular homeostasis within a hostile and toxin-exposed environmental niche.

Lab Website: Randall Reed Laboratory

Selected Publications

  1. Tadenev AD, Kulaga HM, May-Simera HL, Kelley MW, Katsanis N, and Reed RR. "Loss of Bardet-Biedl syndrome protein-8 (BBS8) perturbs olfactory function, protein localization, and axon targeting." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108(25): 10320-10324, 2011.
  2. Lane AP, Turner J, May L, and Reed RR. "A Genetic Model of Chronic Rhinosinusitis-Associated Olfactory Inflammation Reveals Reversible Functional Impairment and Dramatic Neuroepithelial Reorganization." J. Neurosci 30(6):4507-09, 2010.
  3. Bennett MK, Kulaga HM, and Reed RR. "Odor-evoked gene regulation and visualization in olfactory receptor neurons." Mol Cell Neurosci 43(4): 353-362, 2010.
  4. Cheng LE, and Reed RR. "Zfp423/OAZ participates in a developmental switch during olfactory neurogenesis." Neuron 54: 547-57, 2007.
  5. Leung CT, Coulombe PA and Reed RR. "Contribution of Olfactory Neural Stem Cells to Tissue Maintenance and Regeneration." Nature Neurosci 10: 720-6, 2007.
  6. Kulaga HM, Leitch CC, Eichers ER, Badabo JL, Lesemann A, Hill J, Hoskins JR, Beales PL, Reed RR and Katsanis N. "Loss of BBS proteins cause anosmia in humans and defects in olfactory cilia structure and function in the mouse." Nature Genetics 36(9): 994-8, 2004.
  7. Lewcock JL and Reed RR. "A Feedback Mechanism Regulates Monoallelic Odorant Receptor Expression." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101(4): 1069-74, 2004.
  8. Reed RR. "After the Holy Grail: Establishing a Molecular Basis for Mammalian Olfaction." Cell 116: 329-36, 2004.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB) Graduate Program

Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM)

Human Genetics and Molecular Biology


Activities & Honors


  • Harden Lecturer, 36th Harden Conference, 1991
  • B.A. with honors, Johns Hopkins University, 1977
  • Distinguished Young Scientist Award, Maryland Academy of Sciences, 1995
  • Visiting Professor, Simon Fraser University, 2001
  • Hugh Clark Distinguished Lectureship in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Connecticut, 1990
  • Frank Allison Linville’s R.H. Wright Award in Olfactory Research, 2000
  • Kenji Nakanishi Award for Research in Olfaction, 1991
  • Graduate Student Teaching Award, 1989
  • Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1982

Videos & Media

Sensory Biology at Johns Hopkins, Part II

Part II of Dr. Randall Reeds discussion regarding sensory biology research in the Center for Sensory Biology.

#TomorrowsDiscoveries: How Odor Sensitive Cells Regenerate– Randall Reed, Ph.D.

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