RIC lab

Phytoengineering Research Center (PERC)


Phytoengineering Research Center (PERC)

Under the leadership of Prof. Karen McDonald (Chemical Engineering), the Phytoengineering Research Center (PERC) brings together experts in plant-made products to develop human and animal therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures that allow for rapid, scalable protection against biological and chemical threats.  PERC participants have been drawn from both public and private sectors, and bring a wide range of disciplinary expertise, including bioprocess engineering, plant molecular biology and physiology, synthetic biology, indoor vertical agriculture, computational sciences, technoeconomic modelling, bioethics and social sciences. 

To define the technical, economic, regulatory and social challenges in this area of biotechnology, an interactive PERC workshop was held in April 2016 at UC Davis, leading to the development of the SHIELD consortium and related workshops (December 2018 at UC Davis; April 2019 at Colorado State University - Fort Collins). Support for these working meetings has been provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF EEC-1840476) and the UC Davis College of Engineering, as well as in-kind provision of expertise and hosting by PERC partners. 

The PERC research community has seeded several research collaborations, student internships and extramural proposals. As the global infectious disease (e.g. COVID-19) and chemical threat landscape evolves, PERC partners are continually engaging in collaborative scholarly activity to  conceptualize, develop, produce and purify plant-made proteins to meet emerging needs.

PERC 2016
The April 2016 PERC Workshop at UC Davis brought together key members of the plant-made products industry and academic research community to examine the challenges and opportunities in the innovation space, as well as facilitating the development of public-private partnerships.


PERC Talks
Participants discussing plant based pharmaceuticals at the closing keynote session of the PERC 2016 Workshop at UC Davis.  

The keynote address was given by Bob Erwin, President, iBio Inc – “Scientific Progress vs Commercial Progress:  Why is it Taking so Long to Make Plant Biotech Relevant to the Broader Pharmaceutical World?”


Somen Nandi - PERC Dec 2018
Dr. Somen Nandi speaking about the consortium mission, research plans and workshop goals at the December 2018 PERC/SHIELD Workshop held at Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis.


Karen McDonald touring RIC
Karen McDonald touring the RIC facility at CSU Ft. Collins and casting an appreciative eye over the bioreactors as collaborator, John Wyckoff looks on.