Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences [Dept. of Nutritional Sciences]

Beverly J. Tepper, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Food Science, Rutgers University
Ph.D., Tufts University School of Nutrition, 1986

Photo: Beverly J. Tepper, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Dr. Beverly Tepper directs the Sensory Evaluation Laboratory at Rutgers. Her research program combines Food Sensory Science with Nutritional Science and Psychology to better understand the links between taste, diet and health. Specific research areas include the following:

The influence of genetic variation in taste perception (6-n-propylthiouracil [PROP] taste sensitivity) on oral sensations and food choice. Current work examines the role of PROP taster status as a marker for dietary behaviors that predisposes individuals to increased body weight. Studies in children, teens and adults are ongoing. Other taste genes such as the oral fat sensor CD36 are also being investigated.

More about taste genes and eating behavior:

• The effects of diabetes on sweet taste, food cravings and dietary compliance. Special interest is on women who become transiently diabetic during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Gestational diabetes is more common in obese and minority women and places them at greater risk for poor fetal outcome and for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

• Food intake regulation and the influence of cognitive factors such as food attitudes, dietary restraint and disinhibition on eating behavior. Current studies have applied multivariate statistical techniques to small-scale surveys to better understand eating patterns among different population subgroups such as women and minorities.

• Sensory perception and consumer testing for new food technologies.

Dr. Tepper receives research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture and the food industry.


  • Professor, Food Science Dept., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2003-present
  • Associate Professor, Food Science Dept., Rutgers University, 1995-2003
  • Member, Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, 1989-present
  • Assistant Professor, Food Science Dept., Rutgers University, 1989-1995
  • Post doctoral Fellow, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA, 1986-1989
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Tufts University, Medford, MA, 1981-1986
  • Research Assistant, Physiology Dept., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 1978-1980

Appointments & Professional Service

  • Rutgers University Institutional Review Board, Vice-Chair, 2000-2008; Chair, 2008-present
  • Committee on Military Nutrition Research, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, US National Academy of Sciences, 2001-2006
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Food Science – Sensory & Food Quality, 2008-present
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Food Science - Food, Nutrition & Health, 2008-present
  • Editorial board: Journal of Sensory Studies, 1997 – 2011
  • Editorial board: Food Quality & Preference, 2003 - present
  • Editorial board: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2011 – present
  • Editorial Advisory Board: Versita Open-Access Publishing (Agriculture & Food Science)
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Research Associate, 2012-2015

Grants & Awards

  • NIH-R01 DC04702 – Taste and Endocrine Factors in Women with Gestational Diabetes (Tepper-PI). 4/02-3/07
  • McNeil Nutritionals Worldwide, New Brunswick, NJ -Sensory Perception of Sucralose in Soft Drinks: A Multidimensional Approach (Tepper, PI). 2002-2003
  • Linguagen Corp., Cranbury, NJ (Tepper - PI) Adenosine 5’ Monophosphate (AMP) as a Bitter Blocker: Human Perception and Genetic Taste Variation (Tepper-PI). 2003-2005
  • National Cancer Institute – R01 CA116766 - PROP Sensitivity and Obesity Among Ethnic Children (Baranowski-PI, Tepper-Co-I). 4/05-3/09
  • Takasago International Corp., Rockleigh, NJ – Sensory Perception of “Sensate” Flavor Enhancers (Tepper-PI). 2006-2012
  • USDA, NRI Competitive Grants Program, Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Agriculture and Food Systems, Nanotechnology: Understanding the Parameters of Consumer Acceptance. (Hallman – PI; Tepper – Co-I). 01/09- 12/10
  • American Heart Association – Bitter Taste Phenotype, Diet Variety and Obesity in Women (Tepper-PI, Hoffman-Co-I). 7/08-6/11
  • The Wrigley Science Institute, Influence of Gum Chewing on Energy Expenditure and Energy Intake in Adults. (Hoffman, PI; Tepper Co-I), 7/12-6/14
  • American Heart Association – Bitter Taste Phenotype as an Adjunct to a Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention in Women (Tepper-PI). 7/12-6/15

Representative Publications

  • Kirkmeyer SV, Tepper BJ. Understanding creaminess perception in dairy products using free-choice profiling and genetic responsivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). Chemical Senses, 2003; 28:527-536.
  • Keller KL, Tepper BJ. Inherited taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil and diet and body weight in children. Obesity Research, 2004; 12:904-912.
  • Goldstein GL, Daun H, Tepper BJ. Adiposity in middle-aged women associates with genetic taste blindness to 6-n-Propylthiouracil. Obesity, 2005; 13:1017-1023. PMID: 15976144
  • Bell, KI, Tepper BJ. Short-term vegetable intake in young children classified by 6-n-propylthoiuracil (PROP) bitter taste phenotype. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006:84;245-251. PMID: 16825702
  • Goldstein GL, Daun H, Tepper BJ. Influence of PROP taster status and maternal variables on energy intake and body weight in pre-adolescents. Physiology & Behavior, 2007:90; 809-817. PMID: 17313965
  • Tepper BJ, Koelliker Y, Zhao L, Ullrich NV, Lanzara C, d’Adamo P, Ferrara A, Ulivi S, Esposito L, Gasparini P. Variation in the bitter-taste receptor gene TAS2R38 and adiposity in an inbred population in Italy. Obesity, 2008:16; 2289-2295. PMID: 18719631
  • Belzer LM, Smulian J, Lu S, Tepper BJ. Changes in sweet taste across pregnancy in mild gestational diabetes: Relationship to leptin and insulin. Chemical Senses 2009:34;595-605. PMID: 19587026
  • Padiglia A, Zonza A, Atzori E, Chillotti C, Calò C, Tepper BJ, Tomassini Barbarossa I. Sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) is associated with gustin (carbonic anhydrase VI) gene polymorphism, salivary zinc and body mass index in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010:92;539-45 PMID: 20631203
  • Belzer LM, Smulian J, Lu S, Tepper BJ. Food cravings and intake of sweet foods in healthy pregnancy and mild gestational diabetes mellitus - A prospective study. Appetite 2010: 55;609-15 PMID: 20869416
  • Tepper BJ, Neilland M, Ullrich NV, Koelliker Y, Belzer LM. Greater energy intake from a buffet meal in lean, young women is associated with the 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) non-taster phenotype. Appetite 2011: 56; 104-110 PMID: 2111236
  • Calò C, Padiglia A, Zonza A, Corrias L, Contu P, Tepper BJ, Tomassini Barbarossa I. Polymorphisms in TAS2R38 and the taste bud trophic factor, gustin gene co-operate in modulating PROP taste phenotype. Physiology & Behavior 2011 104:1065-71 PMID:21712049
  • Keller KL, Liang LCH, McLean J, May D, VanBelle C, Breen C, Driggin E, Tepper BJ, Lanzano PC, Deng L, Chung WK. Common variants in the CD36 gene are associated with reported fat preferences and obesity in African-Americans. Obesity 2012 doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.374. PMID: 22240721
  • Cabras T, Melis M, Castagnola M, Tepper BJ, Messana I, Barbarossa IT. 2012 Specific salivary basic proline-rich proteins influence sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) in humans. PLoS One 2012;7(2):e30962. PMID: 22312435

Books and Book Chapters

  • Worobey J, Tepper BJ, Kanarek RB. Nutrition and Behavior: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, 2006 (288 pages).
  • Tepper, BJ. Nutritional implications of genetic taste variation: the role of PROP sensitivity and other taste phenotypes. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2008;28:367-88.
  • Tepper, BJ, Belzer LM, Smulian J, Lu S. Sweet taste preferences and cravings in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): Implications for diet and medical management. In: Diet, Brain and Behavior: Practical Implications, Lieberman H, Kanarek RB. (Ed), Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press LLC 2011, pp. 169-188.