Short CV/Education and training

  • Since 2015
    Group leader, Cell Biology Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK

  • 2010 – 2015
    Post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), Vienna, Austria

  • 2010
    Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences, University of California – San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA

  • 2004
    B.A. in Biochemistry, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Selected publications

  • Lancaster MA, Renner M, Martin C-A, Wenzel D, Bicknell LS, Hurles ME, Homfray T, Penninger JM, Jackson AP, Knoblich JA. Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly. Nature. 2013, 501(7467):373-9.

  • Giandomenico SL, Mierau SB, Gibbons GM, Wenger LMD, Masullo L, Sit T, Sutcliffe M, Boulanger J, Tripodi M, Derivery E, Paulsen O, Lakatos A, Lancaster MA. Cerebral organoids at the air-liquid interface generate diverse nerve tracts with functional output. Nat Neurosci. 2019. Apr;22(4):669-679.

  • Lancaster MA, Knoblich JA. Organogenesis in a dish: Modeling development and disease using organoid technologies. Science. 2014, 345(6194):1247125.

  • Lancaster MA^, Corsini NS, Wolfinger S, Gustafson EH, Phillips AW, Burkard TR, Otani T, Livesey FJ, Knoblich JA^. Guided self-organization and cortical plate formation in human brain organoids. Nat Biotechnol. 2017 May 31. ^Co-corresponding author

  • Renner M*, Lancaster MA*, Bian S, Choi H, Ku T, Peer A, Chung K, Knoblich JA. Self-organized developmental patterning and differentiation in cerebral organoids. EMBO J. 2017 May 15;36(10):1316-1329.*Equal contribution.

  • Luo C*, Lancaster MA*, Castanon R, Nery JR, Knoblich JA, Ecker JR. Cerebral Organoids Recapitulate Epigenomic Signatures of the Human Fetal Brain. Cell Rep. 2016 Dec 20;17(12):3369-3384. *Equal contribution.

  • Kelava I, Lancaster MA. Stem cell models of human brain development. Cell Stem Cell. 2016 Jun 2;18(6):736-48.

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • ERC Starting Grant “Evolutionary biology of human and great ape brain development in cerebral organoids”, 2018 – 2023

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • Advisory Board Member of Review Commons, a peer-review platform by EMBO and ASAPbio, since 2019

  • Editorial board member, PLOS Biology, since 2019

  • Credibility Advisory Board member, British Neuroscience Association, since 2019


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  1. Six AcademiaNet members have become EMBO members

    Chosen for their ‘outstanding achievements’, the researchers will join a select community of leading life scientists

  2. ‘The most striking difference about the human brain is just how big it is’

    Madeline Lancaster is known as the inventor of brain organoids, also called ‘mini brains’. We caught up with her for a conversation about how we can study psychiatric conditions in a tiny clump of cells, and what exactly it is about the human brain that sets it apart from that of our closest relatives.

  3. Madeline Lancaster and Sonja Vernes win Blavatnik Awards

    The prizes were given for the development of mini-brains and the investigation of the biological bases of language, respectively.

  4. Madeline Lancaster awarded 2021 Vallee Scholarship

    The biologist is recognised for her work on cerebral organoids or ‘mini-brains’, grown from human pluripotent stem cells and used to model human brain development.

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