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Tufts University receives $10 million to develop cultured meat

15 November 2021

The funding will drive efforts to produce an alternative source of sustainable protein

Led by David Kaplan, a team at Tufts University in Massachusetts has received a five-year, $10 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an alternative meat source produced from cells grown in bioreactors.

The team includes graduate students, engineers, biologists, nutrition researchers and social scientists. The Tufts team is working in collaboration with outside universities as well, including Virginia Tech, University of California at Davis, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MIT and Virginia State. The aim is to strengthen food sustainability, nutrition and food security.

Kaplan, who is chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, said the cultivated meat industry could provide nutritious and safe protein alternatives that reduce the environmental impact and reliance on valuable resources associated with traditional meat production.

First, the interdisciplinary team will work together to evaluate consumer acceptance of cultivated meat. Then, it plans to measure the environmental impact of the manufacturing process and assess the economic feasibility of this type of production in comparison to traditional meat production. Part of the funding will go to preparing the next generation of the new industry's workforce.

“Part of our research will look at improving the nutritional content, shelf life, and other qualities of cell-based meat, along with assessments of impact on consumer perceptions and acceptance,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan said the challenges are huge, though. "From an engineering perspective, every time you scale to the next level there are new limitations in terms of energy requirements, moving and combining materials, dealing with safety and contamination issues," he said.



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