Congratulations to Dr Madeline Lancaster, a Fellow of Clare Hall, who is a 2022 UK winner of a Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists.
Dr Lancaster receives the award for her pioneering development of the first method for generating brain organoids from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, a technology that is ushering in a new era of neuroscience research. Her work using organoids to investigate the blood-brain barrier, primate brain evolution, and fetal brain development will help reveal fundamental knowledge about how human brains evolved and how they are affected by disease.
The human brain has evolved several features that may account for many of the cognitive abilities that make humans a unique species in the animal kingdom. These specific and singular features also make human brain development difficult to study using animal models. To tackle this problem, Dr Lancaster has developed in vitro cerebral organoid models—brain tissues grown in the lab that are created from reprogrammed human stem cells, or human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.