Tufts University establishes cellular agriculture consortium to pool together industry resources and knowledge

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Tufts University
Photo Credit: Tufts University

Related tags cellular agriculture Tufts University alternative protein cultivated meat

The Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture (TUCCA) has launched a new consortium of industry and nonprofit members to support research and development in the burgeoning field of cellular agriculture.

The newly formed consortium's nine founder members include BioFeyn, Cargill, CellX, the Good Food Institute, MilliporeSigma, ThermoFisher Scientific, TurtleTree, UPSIDE Foods, and Vow, which are all invested in various areas of cellular agriculture development.

“We welcome new applicants that wish to join,”​ said David Kaplan, Stern Family Professor of Engineering at Tufts and director of the Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture.

“Joining us at the table will enable a company or organization with an interest in cellular agriculture to provide input on the projects to be funded by the consortium, and early access to the technology and knowledge that comes out of those projects,"​ he said. 

The targeted areas of focus and research for the consortium include sharing knowledge and methods to minimize environmental impacts, finding replacements for all animal-sourced materials (other than the self-propagating cells) in the growth media, and evaluating the economic and environmental cost of production.

In practice, the consortium members will confer and decide among themselves what challenges take priority, and then focus their resources on research to develop solutions to those challenges.

Projects are supported by an annual fee provided by consortium members.

Open knowledge and resource sharing

“The pre-competitive research we do together will help build the foundation of technology for the industry,”​ said Christel Andreassen, associate director of TUCCA.

“These efforts may be outside the main business focus of the individual members, or beyond the scope of capability for any one member to address. Pooling our expertise across disciplines and resources will be key.”

In 2021, Tufts was awarded a $10m grant from the USDA to help establish a National Institute for Cellular Agriculture to train the next generation of professionals in the field, and to combine physical, biological and social sciences toward building a new cellular agriculture industry. The grant helped establish TUCCA along with educational programs at Tufts, Virginia Tech, Virginia State, University of California Davis, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

“Tufts University is in a unique position to act as a catalyst for this new industry,”​ said Bernard Arulanandam, Vice Provost for Research at Tufts. “In addition to our own research in developing cultured meat, we can provide resources to the consortium across multiple fields, from biology and engineering, to nutrition and veterinary medicine.” 

The consortium will be aided by faculty and resources at the Tufts School of Engineering, the School of Arts and Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Friedman School of Nutrition and Science Policy, and the School of Medicine, as well as the Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute at the Friedman School.

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