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Studying Human Brain Development and Evolution in Cerebral Organoids

last modified Apr 05, 2018 04:01 PM
Join us for a talk from Madeline Lancaster, 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 who will be presenting 'Studying Human Brain Development and Evolution in Cerebral Organoids'.
Studying Human Brain Development and Evolution in Cerebral Organoids

Dr Madeline Lancaster

26th April 2018, 13:30 in Lecture Room 3, Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology

Human brain development exhibits a number of unique characteristics, such as dramatic size expansion and variation in relative abundance of specific neuron populations. In an effort to better understand human brain development, we developed a human model system, called cerebral organoids. Cerebral organoids, or “mini-brains”, are 3D tissues generated from human pluripotent stem cells that allow modelling of brain development in vitro. We have been able to demonstrate that brain organoids are particularly powerful not only for examining human specific mechanisms, but also pathogenesis of neurological disease. More recently, we have developed improvements to better control their differentiation using micropatterning to guide their development while maintaining self-organization. Current findings reveal the timed generation of excitatory neurons and inhibitory interneurons as well as their proper migration and positioning. We are now using this system to perform the first functional tests of putative brain evolution genes in this human model system. These studies are revealing some interesting roles for these factors in regulation of human neurogenesis.

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, before joining the LMB in 2015.

Research in the Lancaster lab focuses on human brain development using a new model system, called cerebral organoids. 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.

Lab webpage: http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/madeline-lancaster/