The Coca-Cola Company & MIT Grand Challenge

The Coca-Cola Company & MIT Grand Challenge


The Coca-Cola Company and MIT have partnered on a Grand Challenge to explore alternatives to sugar. The research program will be managed by the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation.

The Grand Challenge will focus on funding research projects in the following areas of interest: 

  • Advances in the science of taste and smell, and role of neuroscience for in enhancing our understanding of sweet taste perception, the interaction with aroma, as well as other tastes and somatosensory effects which differentiate the sugar
  • Tools and technologies to screen sweetness beyond current technologies (especially the quality of sweetness)
  • Advanced chemical approaches to the chemistry of taste (e.g., HTP methods, combinatorial chemistry (peptides, glycans, etc.), or delivery systems)
  • Machine learning and AI in analysis of complex data sets related to perception, understanding taste interactions (e.g., mouthfeel), or discovery


  • April 3rd, 2023 – RFP Announced
  • May 19th, 2023 – RFP Deadline
  • May-June, 2023 – Review/selection of proposals
  • June 15th – Earliest Start date for projects


Ҫiçek SS. Structure-Dependent Activity of Plant-Derived SweetenersMolecules. 2020 April 22; 25(8):1946.  PMID:32331403; PMCID: PMC7221985

DuBois GE, Prakash  I.  Non-caloric sweeteners, sweetness modulators, and sweetener enhancers.  Annual Rev Food Sci Technol.  2012; 3:353-80. 

DuBois GE. Molecular mechanism of sweetness sensation.  Physiol Behav.  2016 Oct 1; 164(Pt B):453-463.  Epub 2016 Mar 15.  PMID:26992959 

Smith NJ, Grant JN, Moon JI, So SS, Finch AM. Critically evaluating sweet taste receptor expression and signaling through a molecular pharmacology lens.  FEBS J.  2021 April; 288(8):2660-2672.  Epub 2021 Mar 6.  PMID:33590961

Ahmad R, Dalziel JE.  G Portein-Couples Receptors in Taste Physiology and Pharmacology. Front Pharmacol.  2020 Nov 30;11:587664.  PMID:33390961; PMCID: PMC7774309

Canon F, Neiers F, Guichard E.  Saliva and Flavor Perception: Perspectives. J Agric Food Chem.  2018 Aug 1;66(30):8983-7879.  Epub 2018 Jul 20.  PMID:29962207.

Ohla K, Yoshida R, Roper SD, Di Lorenzo PM, Victor JD, Boughter JD, Fletcher M, Katz DB, Chaudhari N.  Coding Patterns Along the Neural Axis in Mammals.  Chem Senses.  2019 Aug 15;44(4):237-247.    PMID:230788507; PMCID:PMC6462759


  • The Coca-Cola Company


Dr. Stacy L. Springs
(Center for Biomedical Innovation)

Learn more about CBI's research