What Does Your Sense of Smell Mean to You?

Thursday 6 March 2014

Find out at the launch of Fifth Sense on Saturday March 15th 2014

Next time you tuck into a fragrant curry, sip a cup of coffee or glass of your favourite wine, or inhale a seductive perfume, consider the many amongst us who have lost their sense of smell and taste to disorders such as anosmia, the loss of the sense of smell.

Millions of people suffer from smell and taste-related disorders. These can be brought on by head injury, illness, age and medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Yet the conditions are little understood and often dismissed by the scientific research and medical communities.

Anosmia sufferers who have spoken candidly about their experience include Olympic double gold medal rower James Cracknell OBE; food writer Marlena Spieler; and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream’s Ben Cohen.

Fifth Sense is the first charity to provide current, comprehensive information and advice about smell and taste-related disorders, leading the effort to educate society about the critical role that the sense of smell plays in our lives. It is also a partner in the AHRC Science in Culture project ‘Re-thinking the senses’, whose innovative interdisciplinary work is coordinated by the Institute of Philosophy  at the School of Advanced Study in London. 

Please join Fifth Sense founder Duncan Boak for our launch at the University of London’s Senate House on March 15th 2014 from 13:00-18:00 for an afternoon of short talks and interactive demonstrations focusing on the importance of the sense of smell (and taste), the consequences that smell and taste disorders have on sufferers, and a look at how we have reached a point where the sense of smell is so undervalued.

‘The sense of smell plays a huge and vital role in our lives, but its effects are completely hidden from view’ said Duncan. ‘It’s only when we lose it that we realise how important it was - life can be devastating without it. Yet there is so little understanding across society about the issues that are faced by smell and taste disorder sufferers.’

Experts including urban sociologist Alex Rhys-Taylor and Mr Carl Philpott, Director of the Smell and Taste Clinic at James Paget Hospital, will explore the influence these senses have and discuss developments and achievements in treating these disorders – as well as the challenges to treatment and funding that inspired the founding of Fifth Sense in the first place.

Fifth Sense members will describe first-hand the impact of smell and taste disorders on their own lives, and the afternoon will culminate in a wine tasting (led by wine journalist Maggie Rosen) that will focus on texture and other elements that can be perceived even if flavour cannot.

'We intend for Fifth Sense to be the global organisation that serves those experiencing smell and taste disorders and leads the way in supporting and facilitating research into such conditions,' said Boak.

'Fifth Sense will use the collective experiences of its members, and empower them to educate society on the importance of the sense of smell to our health, well-being and quality of life.’

– Ends –

Notes for editors:

  1. The Fifth Sense launch will be run in partnership with the Centre for the Study of the Senses, at the School of Advanced Study, as part of the AHRC Science in Culture project 'Rethinking the Senses, and will be preceded by an interdisciplinary workshop on the Two Senses of Smell.
  2. Fifth Sense is the first charity working in the area of smell and taste-related disorders and raising awareness of the huge role that the sense of smell plays in our lives.  www.fifthsense.org.uk
  3. The Centre for the Study of the Senses (Censes) at the Institute of Philosophy has an international Scientific Board comprising philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. The aim of the centre is to foster interdisciplinary research on the senses by identifying research groupings to pursue specialised topics of benefit to the participating disciplines. Censes is leading a major research project, Rethinking the Senses, funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Science in Culture theme. philosophy.sas.ac.uk/centres/censes
  4. The Institute of Philosophy was founded in 2005, building upon and developing the work of the Philosophy Programme from 1995–2005. The Institute’s mission is to promote and support philosophy of the highest quality in all its forms, both inside and outside the University, and across the UK. Its activities divide into three kinds: events, fellowships and research facilitation. The Institute of Philosophy is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. philosophy.sas.ac.uk
  5. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities. The School brings together 10 prestigious research institutes to offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Historical Research, Latin American Studies, Modern Languages Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, and the Warburg Institute. The School also hosts a cross-disciplinary centre, the Human Rights Consortium, dedicated to the facilitation, promotion and dissemination of academic and policy work on human rights. www.sas.ac.uk