Dr Madeline Lancaster is a Group Leader in the Cell Biology Division of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, part of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in Cambridge, UK. Madeline studied biochemistry at Occidental College, Los Angeles, USA, before completing a PhD in 2010 in biomedical sciences at the University of California, San Diego, USA. She then joined the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) in Vienna, Austria as a postdoctoral researcher in the Knoblich lab where she developed the first brain organoids, or cerebral organoids, before joining the LMB in 2015.
Research in the Lancaster lab focuses on human brain development using this new cerebral organoid model system. These ‘mini-brains’ are 3D tissues generated from stem cells that allow modelling of human brain development in vitro. The laboratory uses mini-brains to study the most fundamental differences between human brain development and that of other mammalian species – what makes us human. We are also studying neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and intellectual disability, and the cellular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disease progression and potential therapeutic avenues.