Dr Mark Post, MD, PhD, received his medical degree from the University of Utrecht in 1982 and, at the same University, his PhD in 1989. As a postdoc, he joined Experimental Cardiology (prof C.Borst) to set up a Vascular Biology program. From 1989 to 1996 he was senior investigator at the Royal Dutch Academy of Science. In 1996, dr Post was appointed full time assistant professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and continued research in Vascular Biology and more specifically neovascularization. During that period, he co-founded Biological Therapeutics Consultancy Group, Inc. In 2001, he was appointed associate professor of Medicine and of Physiology at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH. A year later, in july 2002, dr Post returned to the Netherlands as a professor of Vascular Physiology at the Maastricht University and professor of Angiogenesis in Tissue Engineering at the Technical University Eindhoven. He is currently Chair of the department of Physiology at Maastricht University Medical Center and Chairman of the Dutch Society of Physiology. His main research interests are vascular biology and tissue engineering of blood vessels and skeletal muscle. These subjects are studied from their basic molecular aspects and cellular mechanisms up to preclinical models and eventually, patients and consumers. In addition he pioneered the creation of meat from stem cells and presented the world’s first hamburger from cultured beef in 2013. As a result, he was awarded the World Technology Award for solutions that benefit the environment at the World Technology Network summit in 2013. Dr Post co-authored more than160 papers in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals and received during his career close to 40 million dollars in funding and awards from different sources including government, charity and industry. He recently co-founded Qorium and MosaMeat, two start-ups respectively commercializing the technologies to produce bovine leather and cultured meat using tissue engineering.
In spite of the (slowly) growing number of vegetarians and vegans in some European countries, the WHO prognosticates that global meat consumption will rise with 70% until 2050. This is partly due to the increase in population but mostly to increasing welfare in Asian and African countries. Meat is a resource intense food and has a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emission. In addition, concern about animal welfare continues to grow. It is therefore inevitable to look at alternative proteins as a food source, or to create meat with a resource extensive, sustainable and animal friendly technology. In 2013, we presented the world’s first hamburger from cultured bovine stem cells applying cell culture and tissue engineering technology derived from medical research. Since then, 7 companies have started the path to bring the products of this technology to the consumer. These companies have the challenging task to create affordable, high quality meat at large scale that is approved by regulatory agencies. Part of the science and engineering still needs to be extended to achieve these goals, but the state-of-the-art is already quite advanced. It is evident from public reactions that the idea of a future with cultured meat incites conflicting emotions that are different from medical applications of tissue engineering both in strength and quality. The emotions need to be understood, taken serious and managed appropriately. Even if the final meat products are biologically and biochemically identical to livestock meat products they will still be different from a cultural point of view. It remains to be determined what this new place will be but it is likely to be in between plant and livestock-animal foods. State of the art of the technology and its place in society will be discussed.