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The International Neuroscience Network Foundation
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Genetic Basis of Taste Perception: Collaborative Research Initiative

In a collaborative research effort sponsored by the Nestlé Research Center (NRC) in Lausanne Switzerland, the INNF is managing a major research initiative between researchers at the Sirio Libanes Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Expression Analysis in Durham, NC; and the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) in Lausanne Switzerland along with collaborators at the Goodman Brain Computation Laboratory at the University of Reno in Nevada. More than 600 healthy, ethnically-diverse volunteers are participating in this multisite study measuring and analyzing taste perception. Identifying and understanding how genetics affects our ability to detect certain taste sensations, and therefore how it affects our food preferences, will provide invaluable data for improving nutrition and health around the world.

Associação Alberto Santos Dumont para Apoio à Pesquisa (AASDAP) and Sírio-Libanês Hospital

Field and laboratory work, including initial screening of the volunteers, execution of a nutritional, food habit and health survey, taste psychophysics testing, and collection of body fluid samples is conducted by AASDAP in a 2,000 sq. ft. state-of-the art neuroscience laboratory located in the Sírio-Libanês Hospital, the largest private hospital in Brazil. The laboratory is equipped with sensory science laboratory equipment and individual tasting booths for focused and well-defined measurement of taste perception.

More than 250 compounds are readied for testing. Researchers prepare solutions for a taste session.

Brain Mind Institute – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

The biocomputational group of BMI at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, has developed a large multivariate data-basis combining the surveys, health data, psychophysics data, genetic information, and metabolic profiles of the subjects and will use this database and the largest supercomputer dedicated for brain research in the world to analyze relationships among the data. BMI will also use the world’s largest SGI supercomputer for advanced scientific visualization, allowing researchers to better perform their analysis using visualization tools and methods. BMI is working in consultation with the Goodman Brain Computation Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Other Partners

NRC’s Metabolomics and Biomarkers Group is performing the metabolic profiling of all subject samples. Expression Analysis Inc. is performing the genetic analysis looking for expression of more than 300 taste, satiety, and other related genes.


The project kicked off in May 2007 with a meeting of all relevant partners at NRC in Lausanne. In October that same year the partners went to Sao Paolo to view AASDAP’s state-of-the-art testing facilities and to refine goals and methods. In June 2008 psychophysics testing of the first 100 subjects was completed and team members are now analyzing the data for preliminary results and method refinement. The group expects final results in the next two to three years.

© 2007 International Neuroscience Network Foundation