Laying the scientific foundation

Our work provides a rigorous foundation for advancing the fundamental scientific breakthroughs that enable alternative proteins to succeed. We analyze the industry to identify key knowledge gaps, allocate grant funding toward the highest-impact research projects, and cultivate an engaged community of scientists to forge collaborations and bolster the technical talent pipeline. We are charting a roadmap to overcome pre-competitive technical challenges through open-access research and accelerate the rate of progress across the alternative protein industry.

Analyzing knowledge gaps and white space opportunities

Identifying crucial knowledge gaps and articulating technological solutions requires a deep understanding of the science in alternative proteins and across parallel fields. Rigorous industry analyses such as life cycle assessments and technoeconomic analyses also provide critical insights for identifying the most impactful levers for improving the taste, texture, price, and sustainability of alternative protein products.

Through a combination of in-house analysis and collaborative partnerships, we are charting a roadmap for addressing technological shortcomings through open-access research and technology development.

Allocating funding toward high-impact research

In an emerging field like alternative proteins, research funding has an outsized catalytic effect, serving to generate preliminary data that stimulates follow-on investment from conventional funding mechanisms. Our Research Grant Program can rapidly deploy funding for mission-critical projects while supporting our researchers to ensure swift commercial translation of their work.

In parallel, our team of experts also serves in an advisory capacity to strategically guide grant-making decisions by other research funders and to support investigators in crafting high-impact proposals.

Building global scientific communities and cultivating talent

Most scientists and engineers working in alternative protein research are relatively new to the field, applying their skills from a wide array of fields to this decidedly interdisciplinary endeavor.

Through our seminar series, researcher communities, collaborative workshops, and on-campus student groups, we build bridges and foster connections throughout the global scientific community. These activities also build a robust pipeline of technical talent, which is often cited as a bottleneck to growth within the alternative protein industry.

Technical deep-dives

A closeup view of a plated plant-based burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles

The science of plant-based meat

Learn about the science of plant-based meat. Discover resources and research on the latest technological developments and key scientific questions.

A battered and fried cultured meat, a cultured chicken cutlet, plated with sauteed greens and mashed root vegetables | image courtesy of upside foods

The science of cultivated meat

Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.

Fermented meat by meati

The science of fermentation

Learn about the emerging role of microbial fermentation in building the next generation of alternative protein products.

Research ideas

Research ideas

GFI identifies the most pressing technological bottlenecks and prioritizes the most promising solutions to accelerating alternative proteins. Tap into our solutions database to discover ideas for research projects, find inspiration for new commercial ventures and products, and explore ecosystem-level interventions to accelerate the field. 

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  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
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Techno-economic models to inform product and process development

Techno-economic models are critical for process design and cost of goods projections. Open-access models based on generalized or exemplar processes with standardized unit operations and designs can form the foundation…

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Comprehensive microbial screening to identify new protein production candidate strains

Metabolic and physiological characteristics of microbial strains define the commercial potential of any fermentative process, but only a minimal number of strains have been scaled up for commercial production of…

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Protein sequence, structure, and functionality database

There is a need for deeper fundamental research on the relationships between protein sequence, structure, functionality, and ultimately performance in plant-based food products. While several plant-based companies have claimed a…

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  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based

Developing open-access model production facility blueprints

Open-access blueprints would provide a head start on facility design and allow equipment manufacturers and engineering companies to address standard industry needs.

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  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based

Biological processing methods for isolating protein ingredients

Processing crops into flours, isolates, and concentrates often relies on chemical and mechanical methods. Biological processing techniques may impart the desired composition and molecular structure for optimal functionality with increased…

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Species-specific research toolkits for cultivated meat-relevant species

Coordinated efforts to develop standardized, comprehensive research toolkits of meat-relevant species would exponentially accelerate cultivated meat research.

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  • Fermentation icon Fermentation

Biosynthetic pathway discovery for fermentation-produced molecules

After identifying specific target molecules or desired functionalities in animal-derived foods, scientists can work backward, mining microbial sequences for candidate molecules in the microbial realm that might provide similar functionality.…

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Open-access formulations & optimization methods for cell culture media and growth factor cocktails

The availability of more open-access formulations will provide a foundation to enable both academic researchers and startup companies to develop their own customized formulations with far less effort and cost.

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Computational models of perfusion flow through scaffolds

For tissue-structured cultivated meat production, the transition from the proliferation phase to differentiation phase may involve seeding cells onto a prefabricated scaffold within a perfusion bioreactor. Medium is then perfused…

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Tools and databases

Tools and databases

Explore our library of research tools and databases that are designed to advance research, foster connection, accelerate learning, and help scientists overcome key technological bottlenecks like access to cell lines and research tools.

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Aggregating data for alternative seafood

Use our open-access databases to explore how scientific taxonomies and evolutionary relationships map onto culinary categories of seafood.

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Expanding access to cell lines

Lack of access to cell lines is a major barrier to cultivated meat research. This initiative is increasing access and funding the development of new lines.

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Alternative Protein Researcher Directory

Explore the global landscape of researchers working to advance the science of plant-based meat, cultivated meat, and fermentation.

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Cultivated Meat Research Tools Database

Use this crowdsourced directory to find species-specific information on research tools, reagents, protocols, and data for cultivated meat researchers.

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Research funding database

GFI’s research funding database provides curated grant opportunities for open-access alternative protein research.

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Student resource guide

This guide will help you steer through the exciting world of alternative proteins.

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Massive open online course

Enroll in GFI’s open-access online course to learn about the science of plant-based and cultivated meat.

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Research Labs Database

Use GFI’s Research Labs Database to find laboratories where public alternative protein science is being conducted today.

Publications and analyses

Publications and analyses

These resources take a deep dive into the science accelerating plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy and share valuable insights about the state of alternative protein technologies.

A closeup view of a plated plant-based burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles

The science of plant-based meat

Learn about the science of plant-based meat. Discover resources and research on the latest technological developments and key scientific questions.

A battered and fried cultured meat, a cultured chicken cutlet, plated with sauteed greens and mashed root vegetables | image courtesy of upside foods

The science of cultivated meat

Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.

Fermented meat by meati

The science of fermentation

Learn about the emerging role of microbial fermentation in building the next generation of alternative protein products.

Cultivating alternative proteins from commodity crop sidestreams report cover on a graphic background

Cultivating alternative proteins from commodity crop sidestreams

Our analysis identifies commodity crop sidestreams produced in North America that are well-positioned to upcycle into inputs for alternative protein production.

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Cultivated meat growth factor volume and cost analysis

GFI and collaborators model the quantities and cost profiles of growth factors and recombinant proteins needed for a mature cultivated meat industry.

Featured

Cultivated meat media and growth factor trends

GFI and TurtleTree Scientific have partnered to distill a snapshot of current cultivated meat industry progress and needs, with an eye toward future demands and cost reduction prospects, based on…

Fermentation manufacturing capacity webinar header

Fermentation manufacturing capacity analysis

This analysis describes the existing fermentation-derived protein manufacturing landscape and strategies to effectively scale manufacturing capabilities to ensure long-term growth.

An image showing the 2022 state of the industry, plant-based meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy report cover

State of the Industry Report: Plant-based meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy

This report details the commercial landscape, sales, investments, public funding, and innovation trends in the plant-based meat, seafood, egg, and dairy industry.

2022 cultivated meat and seafood state of the industry report cover

State of the Industry Report: Cultivated meat

This report details the commercial landscape, investments, regulatory developments, and scientific progress in the cultivated meat and seafood industry.

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State of the Industry Report: Fermentation

This report details the commercial landscape, investments, regulatory developments, and scientific progress in the fermentation for alternative proteins industry.

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Analyzing cell culture medium costs

This white paper explains different routes to lowering the cost of cell culture medium and making cultivated meat economically viable.

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Formulating with animal-free ingredients

GFI scientists explain how ingredients derived from plants and fermentation can be used to create animal-free meat, egg, and dairy alternatives.

Homemade plant-based burger with sweet potato fries

Meat by the molecule: Making meat with plants and cells (The Biochemist)

This article from The Biochemist provides a high-level overview of plant-based and cultivated meat.

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Translating biomedical advances to cultivated meat (Biochemical Engineering Journal)

This peer-reviewed article discusses how advances from the biomedical cell culture industry can contribute to the development of cultivated meat.

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Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture

Learn how cellular agriculture makes it possible to produce genuine animal protein through microbial precision fermentation.

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Needs assessment on building an inclusive alternative protein workforce

This report reviews challenges faced by scholars from underrepresented groups and describes opportunities for GFI and its partners to transform career development experiences for these individuals.

State of the Science

State of the Science

Our State of the Science series ran from 2022 through 2023. These snapshots are not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to provide curated trends and highlights from our team and our subject matter experts. We cover:

  • Emerging technology
  • Developments in the broader scientific ecosystem
  • Noteworthy funding announcements
  • Updates around new or growing talent streams leading into this field.

As more talent and research funding flow into the alternative protein sector, all of these advances will pick up steam since funding and talent constraints pose two of the biggest bottlenecks at the top of the funnel for scientific innovation.

State of the science on alternative proteins

The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: May through August 2023

Alternative proteins offer some of the most game-changing research opportunities around the world. Here are the latest developments in the scientific ecosystem.

State of the science on alternative proteins

The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: January through May 2023

Our top highlights from a busy four months for alt protein science.

The state of the science of alt proteins - september through december

The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: September through December 2022

2022 ended with a bang for the alt protein sector! Here are three promising themes that rounded out an already historic year.

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The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: May through August 2022

It’s been a busy four months in the world of alt protein science. Here are the breakthroughs you may have missed.

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The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: January through April, 2022

A new resource series covering alt protein technology and developments in the broader scientific ecosystem

Research funding

With the support of several generous donors, GFI’s Research Grant Program funds open-access alternative protein research. Get inspired by these research projects, and find funding opportunities for your own research.

Abstract representation of computational modeling for cultured meat

Computational modeling

GFI grantee Dr. Simon Kahan at the Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium is using computational modeling to improve bioreactor design for meat cultivation.

Cashew apples sitting in a basket

Scaling cashew apple supply

GFI grantee Dr. Dionisio is researching cashew apples as a raw material for plant-based meat and solving scale-up challenges in the supply chain.

Stem cells for cultured meat development

The Frozen Farmyard repository

Learn about Dr. Gareth Sullivan’s work to develop a “frozen farmyard” cell line repository for cultivated meat.

Red seaweed floating on the ocean surface

Red seaweed protein

Learn about Trophic LLC’s research developing plant-based meat ingredients from red seaweed protein through GFI’s grant program.

Illustration representing marbled cultivated beef

Developing marbled cultivated beef

GFI is developing marbled cultivated beef with Dr. Amy Rowat at University of California, Los Angeles

Biosensor concept for monitoring cultivated meat production in real time

Integrating sensors into bioreactors

GFI grantees Dr. Ivana Gadjanski and Dr. Vasa Radonic are integrating sensors into bioreactors for cultivated meat production.

Field of sorghum rows

Breeding peas and sorghum

Learn about Dr. Dil Thavarajah’s work at Clemson University to breed organic pulse and cereal crops for improved protein biofortification.

Moody pile of peas

Functional protein fractions

GFI grantee Ms. Miek Schlangen is making functional protein fractions for plant-based meat at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

Scientists looking at a screen displaying animal cells and a dna double helix

Join our global scientific community

Our Alternative Protein Researcher Directory makes it easier for scientists to find collaborators with complementary skills so that together they can accelerate the transition to the next generation of meat, eggs, and dairy. Join our community of researchers today to forge connections, find industry and academic collaborators, and learn about the latest in alternative protein science.

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Building an inclusive alternative protein workforce

This report reviews the challenges faced by scholars from underrepresented and minoritized groups and describes opportunities for GFI and its partners to transform career development experiences for these individuals.

Recent scientific seminars

Dr. Julian McClements: A colloid science approach to next-generation plant-based milks
Dr. Amy Rowat: Marbling cultivated meat with hydrogel scaffolds
Dr. Ricardo San Martin: Using nano-emulsions to improve fat encapsulation
Dr. David Kaplan: Using tissue engineering to grow cultivated meat
Dr. Birgit Dekkers: Using shear cell technology to texturize plant proteins
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The Alt Protein Project

Students play a pivotal role in building the alternative protein ecosystem. Explore how you can start a student group at your university to accelerate the global transition to the future…

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Alternative protein career portal

Discover rewarding alternative protein jobs. Gain insights on building your career and find open positions in this exciting industry.

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Online course: The science behind alternative proteins

Enroll in GFI’s open-access online course to learn about the science of plant-based and cultivated meat.

Meet our experts

View all experts

Liz specht, ph. D.

Liz Specht, Ph.D.

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Liz Specht oversees GFI’s Science and Technology department to build a roadmap for accelerating alternative protein research while empowering scientists to execute on this vision.

Areas of expertise: plant-based meat, fermentation, technical analyses, forecasting and modeling, synthetic biology, public speaking.

Erin rees clayton

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.

SENIOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ADVISOR

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D. supports GFI’s efforts to generate and communicate data-driven insights to accelerate the global alternative protein scientific ecosystem.

Areas of expertise: alternative protein scientific research needs, research funding, research project management.

Amy huang

Amy Huang

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF SCIENTIFIC ECOSYSTEMS

Amy Huang oversees GFI’s efforts to transform universities into engines for alternative protein research and education.

Areas of expertise: university programs, academic ecosystem-building, global health, design thinking, effective altruism, public speaking.

Simone costa, phd

Simone Costa, Ph.D.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY & INNOVATION

Simone Costa oversees SciTech’s technical solutions team to evaluate and advance technological readiness across alternative protein platforms.

Areas of expertise: biomolecular and protein engineering, fermentation, cell biology, strategic planning

Samantha riches

Samantha Riches

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, RESEARCH FUNDING

Samantha is responsible for leading the SciTech research funding team.

Areas of expertise: research funding, global network building, program management

Elliot swartz, ph. D.

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST, CULTIVATED MEAT

Elliot Swartz analyzes scientific progress and bottlenecks in cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: cultivated meat: cell culture media, costs, and environmental impact

Claire bomkamp, ph. D.

Claire Bomkamp, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, CULTIVATED MEAT & SEAFOOD

Claire Bomkamp is focused on cultivated seafood and driving forward GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

Areas of expertise: the science and technology of cultivated seafood, cultivated seafood startups, research, and university programs, scaffolding, science communication, fish puns.

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Faraz Harsini, M.Sc., Ph.D., DipACLM

SENIOR SCIENTIST, BIOPROCESSING

Faraz analyzes how best to scale the cultivated meat industry and ensure that products can enter and grow in the marketplace as quickly as possible.

Areas of expertise: biotechnology, cultivated meat, technical analysis and research

Adam leman

Adam Leman, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, FERMENTATION

Adam is focused on engineering a new paradigm in food production.

Areas of expertise: microbial fermentation, precision fermentation, molecular biology

Lucas eastham

Lucas Eastham

SENIOR FERMENTATION SCIENTIST

Lucas Eastham is focused on analyzing fermentation technologies, and progressing their applications in the alternative protein industry.

Areas of expertise: microbial biotechnology, upstream strain and process development, downstream process development, bioprocess product commercialization

Nikhita kogar, ph. D.

Nikhita Kogar, Ph.D.

SENIOR LEAD SCIENTIST, PLANT-BASED

Nikhita is focused on the technical landscape of plant-based proteins and how to expand their impact and adoption.

Areas of expertise: plant-based product development, materials science, physicochemical characterization, food chemistry

Priera panescu

Priera Panescu, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, PLANT-BASED

Priera Panescu is focused on analyzing plant-based meat and proteins and how to best expedite their progress.

Areas of Expertise: food and agriculture systems, materials science, polymer chemistry, plant-based ingredients

Amanda bess

Amanda Bess

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS MANAGER

Amanda leads SciTech’s technical analyses and supports strategic planning of future research focused on the tractability and sustainability of alternative protein technologies.

Areas of expertise: environmental science, critical analysis, program management, strategic planning

Jill lauson

Jill Lauson

RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM MANAGER

Jill Lauson oversees GFI’s Research Grant Program, maximizing the impact of GFI-funded research through effective coordination, stakeholder engagement, and systems integration.

Areas of expertise: research grant management, researcher support, data management, process improvement

Nathan ahlgrim

Nathan Ahlgrim

ACADEMIC COMMUNITY MANAGER

Nathan manages the Alt Protein Project, in which he empowers student groups around the globe to build the alternative protein field at their university.

Areas of expertise: community-building, program operations, early career coaching, education, psychology, neuroscience

Bianca datta

Bianca Datta, Ph.D.

SCIENTIFIC PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER

Bianca leads our efforts to mobilize and energize the alternative protein research community.

Areas of expertise: material science & engineering, scientific community-building, public speaking, universities, colleges

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Meet our science & technology advisory board

Our science & technology advisory board expands our department’s expert technical capacity by supporting team initiatives, sharing ecosystem insights, and providing strategic feedback on our team’s future activities.

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Support our work

Our research and scientific initiatives are made possible thanks to our generous, global family of donors. Philanthropic support is vital to our mission. Connect with us today to discuss how you can help fuel this transformative work.

Recent updates

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Women and the vital role they play in revolutionizing alternative proteins

Meet four women paving the way for innovations in alternative protein science.

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9 thought leaders reflect on what alternative protein trends to look forward to this year

There are exciting milestones and innovations on the horizon for alternative proteins. Our experts reflect on what may be in store for 2024.

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Our top 23 of 2023

Our global community grew alternative protein progress from the ground up this year. Check out the top highlights.

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The top climate moments of this year and what they mean for alternative proteins

Our food system and climate are inextricably linked. The climate community is starting to take notice, zeroing in on protein.