SAN LEANDRO, CALIF. – New Culture, a startup that makes animal-free dairy products, announced it hired Josh Kittleson as its vice president of biology, as the Bay Area-based company looks to accelerate the time to market for its mozzarella.

Kittleson joins New Culture with more than 15 years of experience in the fields of molecular biology and strain engineering. During his career, he has worked on designing structural proteins for novel applications and engineering microbial behavior. Kittleson earned a PhD in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkely, and a bachelor's in biochemistry and computer engineering from the University of Arizona. He has developed more than 15 patents and published 10-plus peer-reviewed papers.

Previously, Kittleson served as the vice president of research for Bolt Threads, a California-based biotechnology research company. There, he worked on new products and breakthroughs for animal-free materials.

"I couldn't be more excited to join New Culture's rapidly growing team to provide a delicious alternative to traditional dairy cheese, one of the largest opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of methane-belching cows," Kittleson said. "After almost a decade of adventures with spider silk and mycelial derived materials at Bolt Threads, I'm thrilled to dive into this next career chapter, making awesome animal-free cheese at New Culture."

The company’s methods combine traditional cheese-making and fermentation with food science innovations, using casein, a protein found in animal milk that helps give mozzarella its stretchy characteristics and texture.

“Josh is a pioneer in our field with extraordinary experience designing and creating organisms and proteins that are transforming the animal-free industry,” said Inja Radman, New Culture co-founder and chief science officer. “We are thrilled to have him lead our outstanding biology team and be part of New Culture's leadership group."

New Culture and its animal-free, lactose-free cheese is backed by investors such as Kraft Heinz's Evolv Ventures, ADM Ventures, S2G Ventures, Mayfield and Future Ventures. The cheese is expected to debut in late 2022.