U.S – Tufts University in Massachusetts has introduced the world’s first undergraduate degree in cellular agriculture, offering students a unique opportunity to delve deep into this groundbreaking field.
Amid a wave of breakthroughs in cultivated meat, including UPSIDE Foods’ historic first consumer sale in July 2023, Tufts is taking education in cellular agriculture to a new level.
Over the past year, reports have been made on significant advancements in cultivated meat. Now, Tufts University is providing undergraduates with a dedicated degree program focused entirely on cellular agriculture.
Cellular agriculture focuses on the production of agricultural products from cell cultures using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic biology to create and design new methods of producing proteins, fats, and tissues that would otherwise come from traditional agriculture.
After hunting and domesticating animals, ProVeg states that cellular agriculture looks set to become the third phase of human sourcing of animal protein.
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put up a regulatory framework that is favorable to the sale of cultured foods in November 2018.
Perfect Day’s fermented whey protein was given the “generally recognized as safe” classification by the FDA in March 2020, indicating that it was deemed safe.
Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Minister of Finance, announced in March 2019 the launch of a program earmarked U.S$144 million for food-related research and development, including the study of cultured meat.
Cultivated chicken flesh is presently being developed by the Singaporean government’s Agency for Scientific and Technological Research (A*STAR). Additionally, Singapore became the first nation in history to permit the sale of cultured beef in December 2020.
The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry of Japan declared in July 2020 that new guidelines would be created for products made using meat substitutes, including cellular agriculture.
Students enrolled in the course have already begun to explore the potential of cellular agriculture in various ways.
During the Value Creation project in the Cell Agriculture class, Tufts senior Adham Ali and his peers worked on designing a product that utilizes cellular agriculture to simplify consumers’ lives.
Ali’s group conceptualized an “endless essential oil diffuser” that harnesses cell-ag solutions to continuously produce essential oils, eliminating the need for store-bought alternatives.
According to Ali, the experience was eye-opening and changed his perspective on research. Another student, Olivia Calkins, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, expressed her excitement about the degree, emphasizing that cellular agriculture has been her passion since freshman year.
She has actively immersed herself in the field, and the new degree program allows her to formalize her commitment.
Tufts University professors believe that the new degree is a vital step forward for research in cellular agriculture.
David Kaplan, Stern Family Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Executive Director of the Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture (TUCCA), highlighted the significance of offering undergraduates a program that allows them to graduate with a degree in the field.
The university’s minor in cellular agriculture aims to advance tissue engineering research and translate cellular agriculture findings into innovation within the food industry.
Available to students in either the Tufts School of Engineering or the School of Arts and Sciences, the program provides a comprehensive education that will prepare graduates to enter the field as professionals with a deep background and years of engagement in cellular agriculture.