New Study in the Genetics of Taste Lab!

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By Nicole L. Garneau, PhD



Fatty Acids: The 6th Taste?


      Fatty Acid Study _6       

“Small differences in DNA can determine whether or not you can taste a particular substance.”

~Research Participant


Now Open!

The community-based Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is home to a new and groundbreaking population study! Findings from the study will contribute new insights into the possibility that there are more than just the five known tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory), and bitter. The focus for this study will be to learn more about people’s ability to taste fatty acids.

Follow the lab at #GeneticsofTaste


Community Participation: Research & Educational Goals

The Genetics of Taste Lab is a unique venue for both research study participation and citizen science, connecting the community to real scientific research.  

  • Make scientific research accessible and relevant to people’s everyday lives
  • Actively generate and publish new knowledge to contribute to the field of genetics and human health



Assuming humans can detect the taste of fatty acids, how does it happen?

Research suggests that humans can detect the taste of fatty acids, but how this occurs is not known. To look into this question, the Genetics of Taste Lab will open a new research study for public participation. Using an omega-6 essential fatty acid (linoleic acid), the Lab will examine both genetic and environmental factors that might contribute to the ability to taste this important nutrient.





                 “This has done more for my interest in science than my past two years of grad school.”


You Can Experience Scientific Research Firsthand

Our goal is to enroll 3,000 Museum guests over the course of the two-year study. Over the thirty-forty minute experience, participants will rate and describe a series of dissolvable taste strips, answer questions about themselves related to taste, and list how everyone is related (genetically or not) in their group. Each participant will leave with a fun packet with games and at-home experiments, a fun photo and their very own set of nose clips to take with them. We highly encourage family groups and twins (both identical and fraternal) to participate.


  • OBSERVE! Look inside a real genetics lab within the award-winning exhibition Expedition Health. The Genetics of Taste Lab is open for observation 364 days a year.


  • PARTICIPATE! Museum guests age 8 or older (with legal guardian if under 18) can experience scientific research firsthand as research participants.


  • SIGN UP! This research study is being conducted FOR the community and BY the community. Our scientific team includes citizen scientists, undergraduate interns, and Teen Science Scholars. To learn more about volunteer opportunities click the "Meet Our Citizen Scientists" tab on the Genetics of Taste Lab main webpage (


This two-year study is led by Nicole Garneau PhD ([email protected]) and Richard Mattes PhD ([email protected]), and made possible by a partnership between the Health Science and Visitor Programs Departments at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Nutrition Science Department at Purdue University. For media inquires please contact Charlotte Hurley.

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