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EASTBIO: Crops as a route to growth factor (GF) production for cellular agriculture

   School of Biology

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  Prof L Torrance, Dr Andrew Love, Prof D Stewart  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Project Description:

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a fully funded (fees and stipend), full-time PhD position at the University of St Andrews in partnership with The James Hutton Institute. The University of St Andrews is ranked within the top 100 of higher education institutions world-wide.

The project aims to develop crops as a route to growth factor (GF) production for cellular agriculture (in vitro meat) using appropriate farm animal cells (e.g. permanently differentiated and stem cells). The project focusses on the development of stable and transient growth factor expression systems in a range of crop species and allied protein purification approaches. Testing of the growth factors in a commercial environment will be done in partnership with Occam Biosciences, a start-up cellular agriculture company, led by world experts in mammalian cell pluripotency.

State-of-the-art glasshouse and analytical/purification facilities are in place for the development of the growth factor expressing crops. Analogous leading-edge facilities are in place to the test the bioefficacy of all expressed growth factors and grades of purification. The candidate will work with Occam Biosciences to establish the implications of this route to growth factor production on cellular agriculture meat products economics and viability.

Prospective applicants can contact Prof Derek Stewart- [Email Address Removed], Dr Andrew Love- [Email Address Removed], or Prof Lesley Torrance- [Email Address Removed] for further information.

Qualifications / Expertise:

The candidate should have a 1st or 2:1 Bachelor’s degree and preferably a Master’s in plant molecular sciences, cell biology, biology, biochemistry, food science and technology, or in a related area. The ideal candidate should have some knowledge of the following techniques: crop genetic modification and transient expression systems, molecular biology; protein and gene analysis crop production; protein purification and preferably with practical experience in some. The candidate should have excellent communication and organisational skills, be highly motivated and passionate about developing new products, and have strong written, oral and interpersonal skills. The candidate should be able to work independently and as a part of team.


In the first year the successful applicant will be expected to conduct a literature and commercial review of the target area, establish the basal stable and transient growth factor expression systems in crop plants and develop a project plan to investigate optimal systems for GF production. The student will receive appropriate skills and personal development training.

Start Date:

October 2022 or soon after that.

Closing date for receipt of applications is 30 September 2022. 

How To Apply

Please make a formal application to the School of Biology through our Online Application Portal.

We require the following documents; CV, personal statement, 2 references, academic qualifications, English language qualification (if applicable).

Funding Notes

The project is funded by the EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership and open to UK candidates only. Funding covers Home fees and a living allowance.

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