Leveraging Enzyme Excretion Systems for the Cell-Free Synthesis of Lactic Acid; Publish or Perish: Pressures on Academia in Technology Development

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0009-0004-5498-9069
Cocker, Clare, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

University researchers introduce important innovations. How can access to such innovations be improved?

Some products of fermentation can now be produced through cell-free synthesis instead. In the production process, removing the enzymes from cells increases yield by using all raw materials solely for production. Cell-free enzyme technology can optimize large-scale manufacture of lactic acid. Lactic acid is typically produced by fermentation, but cell-free synthesis has been developed at lab scale. Scaling the process requires three main components: 1) producing enzymes for the cell-free reaction pathway; 2) conducting the cell-free reaction; and 3) purifying out the lactic acid product. By scaling up this process, researchers can optimize it and make it cost-effective.

University researchers face career pressure to publish research frequently, secure funding, and gain prestige in their fields. While such pressures can stimulate research productivity, they can also distort research priorities, compromise research quality, and even reward fraud. Academic researchers, publishers, professional societies, and companies are competing to protect or reform the status quo in research. Tenure standards and publication pressures, fueled by the status quo, can compromise research integrity.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
lactic acid, cell-free synthesis, publish or perish

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Eric Anderson

STS Advisor: Peter Norton

Technical Team Members: Collin Marino, Clare Cocker, Ethan Coleman, Gavin Estrella

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