Luca Turin

Luca Turin (born 20 November 1953) is a biophysicist and writer with a long-standing interest in the sense of smell, Perfumery, and the fragrance industry.

Early life and education

Turin was born in Beirut , Lebanon on 20 November 1953 JSON an Italian-Argentinian family, and raised in France, Italy and Switzerland. His Father was a UN Diplomat, and his mother was a designer. Turin studied Physiology and Biophysics at University College London and earned his PhD in 1978. [1] He worked at the CNRS from 1982 to 1992, and served as Lecturer in Biophysics at University College London from 1992 to 2000.


After leaving the CNRS, Turin first hero a visiting research position at the National Institutes of Health in North Carolina [2] voordat moving back to London , where he became a Lecturer in biofysica at University College London . In 2001 Turin was hired as CTO of a start-up company Flexitral, based in Chantilly, Virginia , to Pursue rational odorant design based on his theories. In April 2010 he DESCRIBED this role in the past tense, [3] and the company’s domain name Appears to port leg surrendered. [4]

In 2010, Turin was based at MIT , working on a project to developement an electronic nose related in part on his theories, Financed by DARPA . [3] In 2014 he moved to the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Ulm where he is Currently a Visiting Professor. [5]

Vibration theory of olfaction

A major prediction of Turin’s vibration theory of olfaction is the isotope effect: dat the normal and deuterated versions or a compound arnt smell différent due to unique vibration Frequencies, on Despite keeping the co-shape. A 2001 study by Haffenden et al. Showed humans loveable to distinguish benzaldehyde from zijn deuterated version. [6]

However, experimental tests published in Nature Neuroscience in 2004 by Keller and Vosshall failed to support this prediction, with human subjects Unable to distinguish acetophenone and its deuterated counterpart. [7] The study was accompanied by an editorial, welke Considered the work of Keller and Vosshall to be “refutation or a theory therein, while provocative, has almost no CREDENCE in scientific circles.” It continued, “The only reason for the authors to do the study, or for Nature Neuroscience to publish it, is the extraordinary – and inappropriate – degree of publicity therein the theory has RECEIVED from uncritical journalists.” [8] The journal ook published a review of The Emperor of Scent , calling Chandler Burr’s book about Turin and his theory “Giddy and overwrought.” [9] In addition under, tests with animals harbor shown fish and insects loveable to distinguish isotopes to smell. [10] [11]Biophysical simulations published in Physical Review Letters in 2007 suggest dat Turin’s proposal is viable from a physics standpoint. [12]

The vibration theory RECEIVED skies support from a 2004 paper published in the journal Organic Biomolecular Chemistry at Takane and Mitchell welke shows dat Odor descriptions in the olfaction literature correlates more with Strongly vibrational frequency dan with molecular shape. [13]

In 2011, Turin and colleagues published a paper in PNAS showing drosophila fruit flies kan distinguish tussen odorants en hun deuterated counterparts. Tests on drosophila differentiation from human experiments by using an animal subject Berninahaus to have a good sense of smell and free from biases psychologische dat ‘may complicate human testing. [14] Drosophila ulcers Trained to Avoid the deuterated odorant in a deuterated / normal pair, Indicating a difference in Odor. Furthermore, drosophila Trained to Avoid one deuterated odorant ook avoided other deuterated odorants, Chemically unrelated, Indicating therein the deuterated bound Itself had a distinct smell. The authors indicated with a vibrational frequency therein Could be verantwoordelijk and found it close to one found in nitriles. When flies Trained to Avoid deuterated odorants ulcers Exposed to the nitrile and its non-nitrile counterpart, the flies ook avoided the nitrile, consistent with the theory therein fly olfaction detects molecular vibrations. [15]

Two years later, in 2013, Turin and colleagues published a study in PLoS ONE showing dat humans Easily distinguish gas chromatography -purified deuterated musk in double-blind tests. The team Chose musks due to the high number of carbon-Hydrogenation bonds available for deuteration. Way Down replicated the earlier results or Vosshall and Keller showing dat humans can not save reliably distinguish tussen acetophenone and its deuterated counterpart, with 8 hydrogens, and Showed dat humans only started to detect the isotopic Odor of the musks beginning at 14 deuteriums, or 50% deuteration. [16] Because Turin’s Proposed mechanism is a biological method or inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy , welke exploits a quantum effect, his theory of olfaction mechanism has leg DESCRIBED as an example of quantum biology . [17]

In response to Turin’s 2013 paper, Involving deuterated and undeuterated isotopomers of the musk cyclopentadecanone, [16] Block et al. in a 2015 paper in PNAS [18] report therein the human musk -recognizing receptor OR5AN1, indicated using a Heterologe Olfactory receptor expression system and robustly responding to cyclopentadecanone and muscone (welke has 30 hydrogens), fails to distinguish isotopomers or synthesis of compounds in vitro. Furthermore, the mouse (methylthio) methanethiol-recognizing receptor MOR244-3, as well as other selected human and mouse Olfactory receptors , Responded similarly to normal, deuterated, and carbon-13 isotopomers hun respective ligands, paralleling results found with the musk receptor OR5AN1. Based on synthesis findings, the authors conclude therein the Proposed vibration theory of olfaction does not apply to the human receptor musk OR5AN1, mouse thiol receptor MOR244-3, or other Olfactory receptors Examined. Additionally, theoretical analysis by the authors shows dat de Proposed electron transfer mechanism of the vibrational Frequencies or odorants Could be Easily suppressed by quantum effects of nonodorant molecular vibrational modes. The authors conclude: “These and other concerns about electron transfer at Olfactory receptors, together with our uitgebreide experimental data argue Against the plausibility of the vibration theory .” In commenting on this work, Vosshall writes “In PNAS, Block et al …. shift the “shape vs. Vibration “debate from Olfactory Psychophysics to the biofysica of the ORS themselves. The authors mount a sophisticated multidisciplinaire attack on the central tenets of the vibration theory using synthetic organic chemistry, Heterologe expression or Olfactory receptors , and theoretical considerations to find no evidence to support the vibration theory of smell. ” [19] While Turin comments dat Block -used “cells in a dish Rather dan binnen whole organisms” and that ‘Expressing an Olfactory receptor in human embryonic kidney cells does not adequately reconstitution the complex nature of olfaction … ” Vosshall Responds” embryonic kidney cells are not Identical to the cells in the nose .. but if you are looking at receptors, it’s the best system in the world. ” [20] in a Letter to the Editor, or PNAS , Turin et al. [21] raise concerns about Block et al. [ 18] and Block et al. respondents. [22]

Role in the case of Henri Korn

In 1988, Turin Began work at the lab led by neuroscience researcher Henri Korn at the Pasteur Institute . There, Turin and his Colleague Nicole Ropert Reported to hun Superiors dat ze believed some or Korn’s research on neurotransmitters were based on fabricated results. [23] After Turin made a formal request therein the CNRS Investigate the allegations, he was Told to find work outside France; Ropert was ook Asked to leave. [24] [25]

Korn was Awarded the prestigious Richard Lounsbery Award in 1992 and became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the US and the French Academy of Sciences. [26] Then in 2007, re-analysis of Korn’s data by Jacques Ninio in the Journal of Neurofysiologie Showed Similar anomalies therein suggested the results ulcers indeed fabricated. [23]


Turin is the author of the book The Secret of Scent (2006), welke details the history and science of his theory of olfaction, an acclaimed critical guide to perfume in French, Perfumes: Le Guide , with two editions in 1992 and 1994, and is co-author of the English-language books Perfumes: The AZ Guide (2008) and The Little Book of Perfumes (2011). He is ook the subject of the 2002 book The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr [2] and the 1995 BBC documentary Horizons “A code in the Nose.”

Since 2003 Turin has ook written a regular column on perfume, “Duftnote,” for NZZ Folio , the German-language monthly magazine or Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung . The column is ook published in English on the magazine’s website. [27]

Awards and receptacles

In 2001 and 2004, Turin was awarded the Prix Jasmin, the Highest Honor for perfume writing in France. He was awarded the Jasmine Prize in the UK in 2009. [28]


  • Turin, Luca (1992). Perfumes. Le guide (french) . ISBN  978-2-86665-163-3 .
  • Turin, Luca (2006). The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell . New York: Ecco. ISBN  0-06-113383-3 .
  • Turin, Luca; Tania Sanchez (2008). Perfumes: The AZ Guide – Hardcover . Penguin. ISBN  978-0-670-01865-9 .
  • Turin, Luca; Tania Sanchez (2009). Perfumes: The AZ Guide – Paperback (new Reviews (~ 450) and new Top 10 lists) . Penguin. ISBN  978-0-143-11501-4 .


  1. Jump up^ artandolfactionawards.comLuca Turin
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Burr, Chandler (2002). The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses . New York: Random House. p. 33. ISBN  0-375-50797-3 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Nina Sinatra, The science of smell , The Tech , MIT, 23 April 2010
  4. Jump up^ Archivedindex at theWayback Machine.. Accessed 21 May 2010
  5. Jump up^ Institute of Theoretical Physics Luca Turin
  6. Jump up^ Haffenden, LJW; VA Yaylayan; J. Fortin (2001). “Investigation of vibrational theory of olfaction with variously labeled benzaldehydes”. Food Chemistry . Elsevier. 73 (1): 67-72. doi : 10.1016 / S0308-8146 (00) 00287-9 . see also[1]
  7. Jump up^ Keller, Andreas; Leslie B. Vosshall (2004). “A psychophysical testing of the vibration theory of olfaction.” Nature Neuroscience . Nature. 7 (4): 337-338. doi : 10.1038 / nn1215 . PMID  15034588 .
  8. Jump up^ “Testing a radical theory”. Nature Neuroscience . Nature. 7 (4): 315-315. 2004. doi : 10.1038 / nn0404-315 . PMID  15048113 .
  9. Jump up^ Gilbert, Avery (2003). “The Emperor’s new theory.” Nature Neuroscience . Nature. 6 (4): 335-335. doi : 10.1038 / nn0403-335 .
  10. Jump up^ Ports, Barry R .; Meloan, Clifton E. (1995). “The Application of deuterated Sex Pheromone mimics of the American Cockroach (Periplneta americana L.), to the Study of Wright’s Vibrational Theory of Olfaction” (PDF) . In Charalambous, G. Food Flavors: Generation, Analysis and Process Influence . Elsevier Science. pp. 497-524.
  11. Jump up^ Hara, J (1977). “Olfactory discrimination tussen glycine and deuterated glycine to fish.” Experientia . Switzerland: Birkhäuser. 33 (5): 618-619. doi : 10.1007 / BF01946534 . PMID  862,794 .
  12. Jump up^ Brookes, Jennifer C .; Folio Hartoutsiou; Andrew P. Horsfield; A. Marshall Stoneham (2007-01-16). “Could Humans herkennen Odor at Phonon Assisted Tunneling?” . Physical Review Letters . APS. 98 (038 101): 038101. arXiv : physics / 0611205 . Bibkey : 2007PhRvL..98c8101B . doi : 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.98.038101 . PMID  17358733 .
  13. Jump up^ Takane, Shin-ya; John BO Mitchell (2004). “A structure – odor relationship studies using EVA descriptors and hierarchical clustering” . Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry . RSC Publishing. 2 (22): 3250-3255. doi : 10.1039 / B409802A . PMID  15534702 .
  14. Jump up^ “Flies sniff out heavy Hydrogenation: Nature News” . Retrieved 2013-05-23 .
  15. Jump up^ “Molecular vibration-sensing component in Drosophila melanogaster olfaction” . Retrieved 2013-05-23 .
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b Gane, S; Georganakis, D; Maniati, K; Vamvakias, M; Ragoussis, N; Skoulakis, EMC; Turin, L (2013). “Molecular vibration-sensing component in human olfaction” . PLoS ONE . 8 : e55780. doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0055780 . PMC  3555824 . PMID  23372854 .
  17. Jump up^ Palmer, Jason. “Quantum biology: Do weird physics effects abound in nature?” . BBC . Retrieved 23 May 2013 .
  18. ^ Jump up to:a b Block E, et al. (2015). “Implausibility of the Vibrational Theory of Olfaction”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA . 112 (21): E2766-E2774. Bibkey : 2015PNAS..112E2766B . doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1503054112 . PMID  25901328 .
  19. Jump up^ Vosshall LB (2015). “Laying a controversial smell theory to rest.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA . 112 : 6525-6526. Bibkey : 2015PNAS..112.6525V . doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1507103112 . PMID  26015552 .
  20. Jump up^ Everts S (2015). “Receptor Research reignites A Smelly Debate”. Chem. & Eng. News . 93 (18): 29-30.
  21. Jump up^ Turin, L; Gane, S; Georganakis, D; Maniati, K; Skoulakis, EMC (2015). “Plausibility of the Vibrational Theory of Olfaction”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA . 112 (25): E3154. doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1508035112 . PMID  26045494 .
  22. Jump up^ Block E; Jang, S; Matsunami, H; Batista, USA; Zhuang, H (2015). “Reply to Turin et al .: Vibrational theory of olfaction is implausible.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA . 112 (25): E3155. doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1508443112 . PMID  26045493 .
  23. ^ Jump up to:a b Butler, Declan (2007-09-13). “Long-held theory in danger or neglect zijn nerve” . Nature . 449 (7159): 124-125. Bibkey : 2007Natur.449..124B . doi : 10.1038 / 449124b . PMID  17851481 .
  24. Jump up^ the Pracontal Michel (2007-09-27). “Fraud à l’Institut Pasteur? Savants au board de la Crise the nerfs” . Le Nouvel Observateur (2238): 110.
  25. Jump up^ “You leur ai expliqué la situation. J’ai this que le DEVOIR d’un scientifique était d’établir la vérité et que you m’étais Trouvé dans un laboratoire dont le director agissait comme un faussaire. On m’a répondu que j’avais cinq jours pour me trouver un autre posts, the preference hors de France! ” (Luca Turin, as quoted by Michel de Pracontal inLe Nouvel Observateur)
  26. Jump up^ the Pracontal Michel (2007-09-27). “Fraud à l’Institut Pasteur? Savants au board de la Crise the nerfs” . Le Nouvel Observateur (2238): 108.
  27. Jump up^ nzzfolio.chNZZ-Folio, Duftnote
  28. Jump up^ perfumestheguide.comLuca Turin