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Call for Proposals—Research Partnership

Crowdsourcing Human Taste Research in a Community-Based Lab

The Genetics of Taste Lab is a unique venue for both citizen science AND crowdsourcing health data.

  • We connect our community to research that is relevant to their lives.
  • We conduct research to answer real public health questions and publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


The Call

We have the ability to support the recruitment and enrollment of 1000-2500 human subjects in taste research studies annually in the Genetics of Taste Lab in both English and in Spanish. Proposals are invited for a project that will be open for data collection from November 2018 through August 2019. 

Submissions should be submitted to [email protected] and should be of interest to both the general public and to the field of chemosensory research to be considered.



Projects must:

  • Be in the area of human taste.
  • Include at least one genetics component.
  • Be suitable for subjects ages 8 and older.
  • Have an enrollment outline that does not exceed 30 minutes per person, and not require pre or post enrollment activities.
  • Be suitable for members for groups/friends and families to enroll together
  • Include no invasive techniques.
  • Be substantially different from the projects already completed by the Lab:
    • 2009-2013 Bitter Taste Study
      • Garneau et al. 2014. Crowdsourcing taste research: genetic and phenotypic predictors of bitter taste perception as a model.
      • Boxer & Garneau. 2015. Rare haplotypes of the gene TAS2R38 confer bitter taste sensitivity in humans.
      • Nuessle et al. 2015. Denver Papillae Protocol for objective analysis of fungiform papillae.
  • 2013-2015 Fatty Acid Taste Study
    • Tucker et al. 2015. No difference in perceived intensity of linoleic acid in the oral cavity between obese and nonobese individuals.
    • Garneau et al. Submitted. Taste sensitivity to linoleic acid: A crowdsourced population study.
  • 2015-2016 A Sweet-Tasting Study (role of oral microbiome in sweet taste)
    • Oral microbiome sequencing in progress
  • 2016-2017 The Science of Sour Study (role of genetics in sour taste)
  • 2017-2018 A Savory & Sour Study (role of increasing acidity on the perception of umami)


Applicants must:

  • Help prepare all documents for IRB submission by July 2018.
  • Be willing to (or have the lead graduate student or post doc) travel to Denver for the study kickoff in September of 2018.
  • Have expertise in project proposed and provide statistical analysis directly or the funding necessary to engage the Lab’s biostatistician.


Key Dates

  • Submission deadline: 31 December 2017.
  • Decision: Early February 2018.
  • Applicant acceptance deadline: 1 March 2018
  • Memorandum of Understanding signed: 31 March 2018
  • Study design begins:  1 April 2018.
  • IRB application due: Early August 2018
  • Study training and kick off for Citizen/Community Scientists: Mid September 2018
  • Study open to the public: November 2018-August 2019
  • Data analysis and publication: ongoing.



  • This call is open to researchers based at US organizations.
  • Lead applicants must have a PhD and have a research affiliation or position.
  • Memorandum of understanding is not with the lead individuals but will be made with the organization/institution with which they are affiliated.


Application Form

In the online application form you will be asked for the following information:


  • Name and institutional affiliation.
  • Proposed title of project.
  • A clear, non-expert summary of the research project and its importance in human health.
  • A description of the project activities, including draft outline of the enrollment process proposed, methodology and deliverables.
  • Track record of the proposed team.
  • Budget breakdown of cost of:
    • Enrollment supplies (to be paid by the Genetics of Taste Lab)
    • Data preparation and/or sequencing (please indicate any funds you currently have to support this aspect of the project)
    • Analysis (if costs are associated)


Assessment Process

Applications will undergo a three-stage process:


  1. First sift by the Genetics of Taste management team and exclusion of applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria or fall within the scope.
  2. Review of eligible proposals by the Genetics if Taste Lab stakeholders, a diverse group representing citizen scientists, community advisory board, and expert advisory board.
  3. Final selection, including potential phone/skype interviews.


Assessment Criteria

  • Scope: does the application engage with two or more nexus areas (food, energy, water and environment)?
  • Engagement strategy: does the application display a depth of understanding about the dual goals of the Genetics of Taste Lab (scientific research AND community education)
  • Feasibility:  is the work plan within reason given the project period, is the budget appropriate, does the project team have the needed expertise to execute (with the goal of scientific manuscripts)?
  • Resources: Does the applicant bring other resources (people and monetary) that would strengthen the partnership and further ensures success of the proposed project?


Requirements of Applicant and Applicant Institution if Awarded

A memorandum of understanding between the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the applicant’s organization will be established before the project begins.  The agreement will include terms and conditions related to:  the start date and duration; the project expenses and responsibilities; project requirements and timeframes; intellectual property and results; participation in events.



The Genetics of Taste Lab is supported in part by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health (Award # R25OD021909). The funding allows us to conduct both scientific research and learning research in our community-based Genetics of Taste Lab.



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