New Harvest Research Fellow: Santiago Campuzano, BSc Food Science, University of British Columbia

Project Cost: $184,500

Project Start Date: September 1, 2017

Project Duration: Three years full time for a MSc

Supervisors: Dr. Andrew Pelling (Canada Research Chair and Professor, Depts of Physics and Biology; University of Ottawa) & Dr. Charles M. Cuerrier (Postdoctoral fellow, University of Ottawa)

Project Description: Currently, biomaterial scaffolds that support the growth of mammalian cells in 3D are expensive and commonly derived from animal/human products, making them unsuitable for creating cultured meat.

The Pelling lab has demonstrated that apple-derived cellulose can act as an ultra-low cost and efficiently produced scaffold. It could support 3D culture of mammalian cells, promote cell invasion and proliferation, and retain shape and mechanical properties for several months in culture. As an organic, plant-based fibre, cellulose is one of the most abundant, sustainable, and easily sourced biomaterials on earth (it can be found in plant barks and leaves).

Over the following three years, Santiago will be investigating naturally-derived biomaterials from at least five plant sources — asian pear, carrot, rose petals, asparagus, and mushroom, to name a few — as scaffolds for cultured meat production.

Project Relevance: The goal of this work is to develop an open source, plant-based scaffolding platform which can be employed by anyone worldwide for numerous applications, including cellular agriculture.

Fun Facts: Santiago is into boxing and martial arts, worked in the hospitality industry as a cook and server throughout his degree, and just packed up his car for a 7-day cross-Canada move from Vancouver to Ottawa to begin his research.

This project is being made possible thanks to the philanthropic support of InVivo Group and the Scott and Cyan Banister Freedom Fund.

If you’d like to contribute to research projects like Santiago’s and receive monthly updates on our research activities, you can join New Harvest’s community of donors here.