Multicolored test tube caps
  • USDA - National Institute for Cellular Agriculture
  • ARPA-E grant on cellular agriculture sustainability
  • Merck Innovation Award for bioreactor design
  • NASA – Deep Space Entomoculture

USDA National Institute for Cellular Agriculture
Title: Integrated Approaches to Enhance Sustainability, Resiliency, and Robustness in United States Agri-Food Systems [Grant: 2021-69012-35978, Sept, 2021 – Aug, 2026]
Team: David Kaplan, Tufts; Nicole Tichenor Blackstone, Tufts; Sean Cash, Tufts; Reza Ovissipour, Virginia Tech; Nitin Nitin, UC Davis; Markus Buehler, MIT; Michael Tlusty, U. Mass. Boston; Yixiang Xu, Virginia State

Summary - This proposed project aims to innovate the food supply chain from cell to fork and enhance food sustainability, nutrition, and food security by developing a cell-based meat platform based on the integration of physical, biological, and social sciences. Cultivated-meat production is emerging as an alternative source of sustainable protein to help address nutrition and food safety for consumer choices. Cultivated-meat faces many obstacles on an industrial scale: (a) questions related to consumer acceptance, perceptions, and expectations; (b) technical sound life cycle and techno-economic analyses; (c) limited access to low-cost media and suitable cell lines impacting scalability; (b) lack of available sustainable biomaterials to achieve nutritious, safe, and organoleptically accurate cultivated-meat; (c) lack of systematic approaches for training the next generation of professionals. Our central hypothesis is that a sustainable, cost-effective, and scalable cultivated-meat platform will increase food availability options for consumers while decreasing environmental impact.

ARPA-E grant on cellular agriculture sustainability – via subcontract from Mori, Inc. [February 2021-December, 2022]
Title: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Demands in the Meat Production Industry via Scaling Advanced 3D Culture Bioreactors [May 2021 – April 2022]

Summary - Food production, in particular animal-derived meat products, are a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG), compounded by the remarkable inefficiency in biomass conversion (grain to dense muscle tissue in meat), along with growing challenges with food safety, quality, and nutrition.  To address this growing problem, we propose to exploit the emerging field of cellular agriculture (tissue engineering of muscle and fat for food) as a route to significantly reduce GHG and energy use and to address the associated challenges listed above and associated with current livestock production methods for meat output.  The scaling process is the major focus of this proposal, to implement two novel bioreactor designs, to assess scaling and outcomes (e.g., biomass per unit volume, cost of production, GHG/energy usage) for in vitro meat production.  This study will accomplish two major outcomes with new enabling technology: (a) demonstration of feasibility for scaling in vitro meat production – from the bench-scale to the macro-scale, and (b) provide data upon which suitable mass and energy balances can be derived to address accurate predictions of energy, GHG, and related savings. 

Merck Innovation Award for bioreactor design
Title: Advanced Manufacturing of Cultured Meat via Textile-Based Bioreactors [March 2020-March 2024]

Summary - The aim of the project is to develop a system that will enable the large-scale construction of tissue engineered muscle and fat that will be safe for human consumption. The team plans to design and construct a bioreactor capable of producing the optimized cultured meat tissue fibers in a scalable manner.

NASA - insect cell cultivation for foods of the future
Title: Deep Space Entomoculture [Nov 2021 to Dec 2022]

Summary - To develop technology to use cultured insect cells as novel food products during long-term space missions.