Dr. Megha Bajaj (PhD) and Dr. Ben Scott (PhD) will lead the innovative GIFS engineering biology platform. (Photos: Submitted)
Dr. Megha Bajaj (PhD) and Dr. Ben Scott (PhD) will lead the innovative GIFS engineering biology platform. (Photos: Submitted)

Global Institute for Food Security at USask attracts top talent for engineering biology technology platform

In an increasingly competitive market for biomanufacturing talent, the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has attracted top science and business professionals to lead its expanding engineering biology technology platform.

GIFS is pleased to announce two new members who will lead the innovative engineering biology platform: Dr. Megha Bajaj (PhD) will lead the platform’s business unit; and Dr. Ben Scott (PhD) will build the science team and develop the platform’s technological capabilities.

Bajaj joins GIFS as the engineering biology business lead. She recently worked at Innovate Calgary, the technology transfer office and business incubator of the University of Calgary. She holds a PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Alberta and brings extensive experience building intellectual property strategy and the commercialization of new technologies.

“I look forward to contributing to the growth of this one-of-a-kind technology platform, and helping our clients rapidly scale the discovery, development and delivery of more nutritious and sustainable crops and food products,” said Bajaj.

Scott comes to GIFS from the Concordia University Genome Foundry and is founder and president of SynBio Canada, a national not-for-profit working to promote synthetic biology training and research. He joins GIFS as the engineering biology platform lead and will be responsible for growing and developing the exclusively agriculture and agri-food focused engineering biology capacity at the institute.

“GIFS has a growing reputation for delivering world-class research services, such as data management and analysis, gene sequencing, and plant resilience. I look forward to helping expand GIFS technology and talents to grow Canada’s engineering biology capabilities,” said Scott.

Engineering biology combines automation, biology and computational tools to significantly accelerate the design, build, test, and learn cycle to decrease the amount of time it takes to discover and develop innovations using biological applications. This distinctive blend of technologies is helping fuel the estimated $4 trillion global biomanufacturing industry, which, alongside a wide variety of health, materials, consumer goods, and energy related improvements, has the potential to aid the production of crop health products, help make plants more nutritious and resilient to biotic and abiotic stress, provide new ways of processing and preserving food, and create entirely new foods.

The agri-food and agriculture-focused platform at GIFS is part of Canada’s growing biomanufacturing capacity, which has attracted talent from around the world and significant government and industry investment. The combination of these technologies and the institute’s agri-food and agriculture focus is one-of-a-kind in Canada, and means GIFS is well-placed to play a critical role in the country’s ability to continue to lead the world in sustainable agriculture and global food security.

“We are thrilled to have these two talented leaders join GIFS,” said Dr. Steven Webb (PhD), chief executive officer at GIFS. “Our engineering biology platform makes Saskatchewan the focal point in Canada for this type of agri-food and agriculture innovation, growing the province’s profile as the hub for delivering biomanufacturing services to support the agri-food and biotechnology sectors. The experience and talent Megha and Ben bring to GIFS will help develop this capability.”