Interview with Prof. Huang Dejian: Kosmodehealth

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Prof. Huang Dejian was trained as a chemist with a PhD degree (1999) in inorganic chemistry from Indiana University and postdoctoral research experience (Chem Eng) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his independent research career in 2001 by venturing into the chemistry of food bioactive constituents for health promotion and disease prevention and plant proteins. Specifically: 

  • Chemistry of bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables for controlling diabetes, anti-aging, antioxidants, anti-inflammation, anti-obesity 
  • Plant proteins for 3D printing of seafood mimics and scaffolds for cell-based meat culture and biomedical applications 

He has published over ~200 papers and was named by Thomson Reuters as a Highly Cited Researcher 2014 and 2015. Dejian is an associate editor of Journal of Functional Foods, and Frontiers in Nutrition Food Chem. He is a co-founder of Kosmode Health Singapore Pte Ltd (2016) (https://kosmodehealth.com/). Prof. Huang will be speaking at our upcoming event 3DHEALS Startup Showcase: Singapore.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing?

Dejian: I became connected with 3D printing in 2013 when I had a chance to interact with my colleagues Prof Jerry Fuh and Dr Sun Jie from Faculty of Engineering, NUS. We were setting up research programme at National University of Singapore (Suzhou) Research Institute.  I was fascinated by their work on 3D printing of human tissue implants. I admired their impressive work but felt it was too different from my research (food chemistry) at that time.

 

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing?

Dejian: Upon further interaction with Dr Sun at NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute, I realized that, actually, chemists could play key roles in 3D printing, by developing novel inks. Indeed, we made an immediate impact by working with Dr Sun in developing plant protein-based inks that can provide new functionality to the 3D printed scaffolds with better biodegradability, biocompatibility, and less cell toxicity. All of a sudden we found a new and exciting research field in applying plant proteins as key ingredients for bioinks. This allowed us to print novel scaffolds that can be applied for biomedical applications (such as 3D cell culture) as well as cell-based meat culture. The NAMIC grant and EDG grant provided timely support to our development of this frontier of research and development of commercial products. 

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey?

Dejian: Prof Jerry Fuh and Prof Sun Jie are the two key scientists who inspired me to venture into 3D printing research and commercialization.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Dejian: The possibility of making new (and surprising) discoveries that may make a great impact on human health promotion and the betterment of our human society. 

Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions? 

Dejian: Limited funding sources and manpower are the two hurdles we are trying to overcome in order to make greater progress in 3D printing technology.  

Jenny: What do you think is the biggest challeng in 3D Printing/bio-printing?

Dejian: I would say scalability of 3D printing.

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Dejian: Sustainable world, health and longevity, and peaceful human society. 

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advices you heard should they ignore? 

Dejian: I would encourage young students to:  think bold yet be prudent when taking action. 

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