The Philadelphia center - a nonprofit research institute fielding experts in taste, smell, and chemosensory mouthfeel - announced yesterday that Kraft had given a $200,000 contribution to establish the chair in Human Sensation.
The aim of the chair will be to support junior faculty research in chemosensory perception with a focus on the processing of intensity and quality in flavor. The center said that it expects results to provide information on the sensory basis of dietary choices and eating behaviors of children and adults.
Taste is a key driver in the $4 trillion global food industry and the results of such research could lead to strong market advantages.
Dr Paul Wise, an assistant member of the center, will be the first Monell scientist to hold this position, which will last for an initial period of four years, and may be renewable thereafter. He has most recently conducted research into how perceived sensation changes over time when faced with steady stimulation and how differing levels of time and concentration may help maintain a constant level of detectability.
Monell is currently attempting to raise $10 million to enable it to expand its facilities and allow its team of collaborative scientists to conduct new and enhanced chemosensory research.
Researchers at the center recently confirmed the influential role genetics plays in the taste profile of individuals, asserting that each human carries his or her own distinctive set of taste receptors that gives them a unique perception of how foods taste. However, they suggested that an individual perceives taste comes down to a single gene.
The scientists claimed their findings provided "an improved understanding" of why individuals differ in their ability to taste some bitter compounds.
They will now use their procedure to understand why people are sensitive to other tastes, such as sweet or umami (meaty), as well as flavours and other types of bitter compounds (February 22 issue of Current Biology).