Health Sciences


Health Sciences at the Museum began with the opening of the Museum's first permanent health exhibition in 1987, the Hall of Life. This exhibition helped to grow health science as an attraction for visitors, to support health science education, to expand on hand-on exhibits at the Museum and to incorporate Health Sciences as a core competency. By 1998, the goals were completed and surpassed, and recommendations were made for a health science strategic plan, the renovation of the Hall of Life, and the hiring of PhD level scientists to ensure the quality and scientific accuracy of all health science related exhibits, education, and programming. These recommendations were made part of the Museum's strategic plan, Museum 20/20, and the Health Sciences Initiative was born.


In 2004 the Museum officially created the Health Sciences Department and hired its first PhD level health science curator, Dr. Bridget Coughlin. Dr. Coughlin became the content specialist on the health exhibition core team at the Museum. Under Dr. Coughlin,  the new permanent health exhibition, Expedition Health, opened to the public on April 1, 2009. In October of 2009, the Museum hired Dr. Nicole Garneau as a second curator in the Health Sciences Department, and launched the first community-based participatory laboratory that studies molecular genetics.


Click here to learn more about the community-based Genetics of Taste Lab!


The Health Sciences Department is the home of the Genetics of Taste Lab. This lab is the first community-based and citizen science-driven human genetics lab in the country.

We are open 7 days a week to visitors who want to look in and see how a real molecular lab works and watch real scientists in action. We enroll over 1000 Museum guests in our community-based genetics lab a year to study how genetics affects taste and health.

Maybe watching isn't enough, which is why we want YOU to be a part of our study. Our new study is open!   It will be open to anyone 8 years or older (with legal gaurdian), with a strong focus on enrolling families, twins and multiples.

This research experience will be free with Museum admission, and is subject to the availability of our  community scientists working in the lab that day.


The Health Sciences Department serves over 10,000 people a year through the community-based Genetics of Taste laboratory, onsite lectures and events for students and adults, and offsite lectures and multimedia applications.




All staff members in the community-based lab are encouraged to serve the chemoreception field. In this respect, each lab staff person is a member of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences. Regionally, the team attends events held through the Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center. Locally, we serve the Denver community through high school and undergraduate level internships.



The research collection in the Health Science Department is comprised of rare and unique specimens, as well as a small selection of pieces of medical importance. The department is actively seeking research collection acquisitions in the areas of human anatomy, pathology, and histology. To learn more about our unique collection, including projects being conducted by our Teen Science Scholars and our masters students from the Anatomy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, we invite you to visit our integrative collections page by clicking here.

Who We Are

The Health Sciences Department serves Museum visitors through the exploration of the biological principles of human biology, with the vision to inspire application of these discoveries in their own lives. This is accomplished through the interactive exhibition Expedition Health, educational programs for students, evening programs for adults, and through the NIH-funded Genetics of Taste study within the citizen-scientist run, community-based research laboratory, called The Genetics Lab.

Upcoming Events

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