From Biophysics to Cellular Farming: Towards Culturing Meat for Food Production

Sep 20, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public



Event Description

The rapidly developing field of cellular agriculture—which addresses the challenge of growing muscle tissue ex vivo by harvesting precursor cells from animals and culturing them in a bioreactor—has exciting potential to provide a sustainable alternative method for meat production with reduced environmental impact. But to make cultured meat a feasible and delicious protein alternative, these products need to be generated at a massively larger scale than typically used for cell culture in biomedical research. A critical step for scaleup is to culture cells in suspension using a large-scale bioreactor. However, in living animals, nearly all cells attach to extracellular scaffolds, which enable muscle cells to ‘flex’ and generate biological tension. My group recently developed edible microcarrier scaffolds that have tunable mechanics—which can mimic the natural growth environment of muscle and fat cells—and are compatible with suspension culture.  Here I will discuss our approach to engineer microcarrier scaffolds, which provide the foundation for structuring and organizing the growth of both myogenic and adipogenic cells and microtissues into cultured meats.  I will also discuss our collaborative research efforts using perspectives from across disciplines to address public perceptions of cultured meat, and to engage students and general audiences in critical conversations around the future of food systems.

Amy C. Rowat is a biophysicist and Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Graduate Education in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology at the University of California at Los Angeles.  She is the Marci H. Rothman Presidential Chair in Food Studies and also a member of the UCLA Bioengineering Department, the Center for Biological Physics, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Broad Stem Cell Research Center.

The Princeton Food Project is supported by the Humanities Council’s Magic Grant for Innovation.  Co-sponsors for this event include Blue Lab, Effron Center for the Study of America, High Meadows Environmental Institute, Office of Sustainability, and University Center for Human Values. 

Questions can be sent to [email protected]

  • Blue Lab
  • Effron Center for the Study of America
  • High Meadows Environmental Institute
  • Office of Sustainability
  • University Center for Human Values