Madeline Lancaster

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Madeline Lancaster is an American developmental biologist studying neurological development and diseases of the brain. Lancaster is a group leader at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.


Lancaster was an undergraduate student at Occidental College in Los Angeles from 2000-2004 where she studied biochemistry. She then went on to complete a PhD with Joseph Gleeson at the University of California, San Diego in 2010.

Career and research[edit]

Lancaster conducted her post-doctoral work in the lab of Jürgen Knoblich at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, Austria. This work was supported by fellowships from EMBO, the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. During this time Lancaster worked on developing the technology of cerebral organoids.[1]

In 2015 Lancaster joined the Cell Biology division at the LMB, where she currently leads a research group studying the biological processes of human brain evolution.[2] Her research also focuses on neurological diseases caused by abnormal brain size e.g. microencephaly and macroencephaly. The lab uses the cerebral organoid system to study how genes impact on brain development in a range of species.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]

Lancaster was awarded the Eppendorf Award for Young Investigators in 2014.[4] The following year Lancaster gave a TED talk entitled 'Growing mini brains to discover what makes us human'.[5] [6] Lancaster was named a Cell Scientist to watch by the Journal of Cell Science in 2017.[7]


  1. ^ Lancaster, Madeline; Renner, Magdalena; Martin, Carol-Anne; Wenzel, Daniel; Bicknell, Louise; Hurles, Matthew; Homfray, Tessa; Jackson, Andrew; Knoblich, Juergen. "Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly". Nature. 501 (7467): 373–379. doi:10.1038/nature12517. PMC 3817409. PMID 23995685.
  2. ^ "Lancaster Lab". MRC-LMB.
  3. ^ "The genius who grows tiny brains in a lab". BBC. Sep 2016.
  4. ^ "Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators". Eppendorf Corporate.
  5. ^ "Growing mini brains to discover what makes us human | Madeline Lancaster | TEDxCERN". YouTube.
  6. ^ "How one scientist is growing miniature brains in her lab". Jan 2016.
  7. ^ "Cell scientist to watch – Madeline Lancaster". Journal of Cell Science. 2017. doi:10.1242/jcs.199984.