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Wednesday, October 18, 2017
BESTies explore new cellular agriculture field

The BEST Program aims to broaden career opportunities for our participants. Biomedical Engineering BESTies, Elizabeth Feeney and Daniel Cheung requested BEST funding and attended the New Harvest 2017 Conference on October 11-12 in New York City.  See what they got out of their experience:

"The New Harvest Conference focused on the growing industry of cellular agriculture, which is mainly focused on the application of tissue engineering for producing foods like meat. Over the two days, there were talks and discussion panels covering the science behind tissue engineering meat and creating plant-based "meats", regulatory approval for these food products, and the psychology and marketing considerations for getting these products to be accepted by consumers. 

As a biomedical engineer, I loved learning about the application of regenerative medicine to cellular agriculture. I was fascinated to learn about where this field stands and the cutting edge science from leading start-ups in this field like Memphis Meats and academic researchers too. Additionally, it was a smaller conference of just a couple hundred people, and I was able to easily connect with leaders from start-ups, non-profits, and food science companies. I gained a better appreciation for the field and saw how I may apply my own experiences in biomedical engineering towards a job in this area. Finally, I was inspired by my conversations with people at the conference who are likewise passionate about cellular agriculture and its impacts on the environment and animal welfare. 

Thank you to the BEST program for supporting me and allowing me to explore such a cool new field!"-Elizabeth Feeney

"Cellular agriculture is a multidisciplinary field that uses cell- and tissue-based techniques to produce agricultural products, particularly meat. The two-day conference focused on a variety of topics, including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine techniques to produce meat, plant-based methods for meat substitutions, regulation of these industries, the ethics regarding the field, and the state of the whole industry.  

Not knowing the field, I didn't know what to expect, but I was thoroughly surprised at how close the cell ag community is and how passionate everyone at the conference was towards improving these technologies to ultimately lessen the environmental and ethical impact of meat production. I gained new appreciation towards the field, and I realized how my skills as a tissue engineer can be used for producing "clean meat" or "cultured meat". I also learned about the variety of companies that are leading the field, and I was able to connect with them and learn about job opportunities. 

I want to thank the BEST program again for allowing me to attend and learn about this new and exciting field!-Daniel Cheung