Professor Johannes le Coutre

Professor Johannes le Coutre

Dipl. Biol. (M.Sc.)
Dr. rer nat.
School of Chemical Engineering


Johannes le Coutre joined UNSW in 2019 as Professor – Food & Health. With the goal to strengthen food security and to alleviate the agricultural burden on the environment he is developing a broad research agenda on cellular agriculture. Current food systems around the globe will not be able to provide sustainable food security, and rigorous scientific investigation is required to deliver innovation for agriculture and food industry. He is teaching within the UNSW food program.
Le Coutre holds a Ph.D. in Biophysics for studying the reaction mechanism of the light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin using time resolved Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nutritional Physiology. He discovered the critical role for protein-based proton conduction of highly ordered and dynamic hydrogen-bonded networks. This came after a Diploma (MSc) in Biology for a thesis on bacterial photosynthesis from the University of Regensburg, Germany. 
Fascinated by fundamental biological questions of “outside vs. inside” and the underlying biophysics describing substrate fluxes and energy transfer, Johannes went to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at UCLA in Los Angeles, USA. In the laboratory of H. Ronald Kaback he studied sugar transport in Escherichia coli and the Lactose Permease using a variety of biochemical and biophysical approaches. Arguably this bacterial system can be seen as the simplest form of cellular nutrition.
With the human genome becoming available in 2000, le Coutre was recruited for a position at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, to operationalize the emerging insights on molecular taste physiology for research on food and flavours. As the head of Perception Physiology, he has been driving various large corporate research projects. Le Coutre’s lab has been among the initial research groups who identified taste receptors to be expressed in the gastrointestinal tract.
His research led to important technology developments that were commercialized in key markets and product categories. He is the co-inventor of numerous patents and author of peer reviewed scientific publications.
From 2009 to 2017 le Coutre held a visiting Professorship at the University of Tokyo, where he has been involved with teaching and with a project on taste perception in the Elderly (Mikaku). Also in 2009, le Coutre initiated a well perceived course on innovation at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
In 2016 le Coutre has been promoted to Head of the Greater London Research Program. He established and led a portfolio of scientific collaborations between Nestlé and lmperial College London, where he holds a visiting Professorship. This program features clinical work on microbiota, on spices and on food-related human perception.
Prior to joining UNSW, in addition to his research activities, he served as the Secretary General for Nestlé’s Scientific Advisory board and as coordinator of the International Nutrition Symposium, an annual event featuring world-leading scientists debating critical topics in food and nutrition.
Professor le Coutre is the founding Field Chief Editor for FRONTIERS in Nutrition, an open access journal by the Frontiers Media company.


+61-2-9385 7195
Science and Engineering Building – E8, Room 437
  • Journal articles | 2021
    Rybchyn MS; Biazik JM; Charlesworth J; Le Coutre J, 2021, 'Nanocellulose from Nata de Coco as a Bioscaffold for Cell-Based Meat', ACS Omega, vol. 6, pp. 33923 - 33931,

  • 2021    Elected fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (RSNSW)
  • 2016    PURINA Patent Incentive Award
  • 2013    Nestlé R&D award for Innovation Partnership
  • 2010    Nestlé R&D award for Innovation Partnership
  • 1997    Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Long-Term-Fellowship
  • 1996    Stipend, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
  • 1992    Fellow, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
  • 1991    Fellowship, Max-Planck-Society 

  • Food perception
  • Cellular Agriculture
  • Industry engagement




  • Nature OUTLOOK, December 09, 2020, Will cell-based meat ever be a dinner staple?

  • THE NEW DAILY, Dec 2, 2020, ‘Cultured’ chicken: Consumers to get a taste of lab-grown meat in world first

  • Food Australia, Oct-Dec 2020, A world first in humanitarian science and technology

  • The New Daily, November 27, 2020; Slaughter-free meat? Scientists say it could save the world from another pandemic
  • Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, July 13, 2020; Could a hidden 'bliss point' be threatening your health goals?
  • Futura, The journal of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, 1, 2020; Halfway around the world: interview with alumni Johannes le Coutre (Australia) and Clemens Franz (Japan)
  • Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, August 12, 2020; Plant-based meats tick more health boxes than real meat, report finds
  •, Posted on August 25, 2020 in Top News; In conversation with Johannes le Coutre, Field Chief Editor for Frontiers in Nutrition