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Reed College psychology professor awarded NIH grant

Steven St. John receives a grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue a study in the taste quality coding of salts

PORTLAND, OR (September 22, 2004)- Steven St. John, assistant professor of psychology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to research the extent to which cetylpiridinium chloride (CPC), a common surface disinfectant found in mouthwashes, affects or inhibits a human’s ability to taste salt. In conducting the study, St. John hopes to not only address basic questions about how the nervous system can represent the distinctiveness of environmental stimuli, but also perhaps work to aid in the design of salt taste enhancers. According to St. John, these enhancers, which could eventually be used as a substitute for table salt in diets, would be a "benefit to society, considering salt’s association with such health concerns as hypertension."

In the terms of his grant, St. John will receive an award of $213, 638, which he will use to support his research over the course of the three-year study.

St. John, who received his Ph.D. in psychobiology from the University of Florida in 1997, began teaching at Reed in the fall of 2001. In his research, St. John hopes to augment the fields of psychobiology, neuropsychology, and behavioral psychology with neuroanatomical investigation. Essentially, he seeks to answer the question of how physical tissue can create varying psychological mental states.

Beyond advancing his field, however, a primary goal in all of his research is to involve students in lab investigations. St. John desires "to work in a laboratory in which students can gain experience with classical psychobiology techniques."
In pursuing the answers to all of the questions posed in his current study with the help of Reed students, St. John hopes that they inspire further questions that he and his students can explore in the future.

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Reed College
Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes Scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). For more information, visit