Madeline Lancaster, Group Leader in the Cell Biology Division at the LMB, has been honoured by the 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK as Laureate in the Life Sciences category.
The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK celebrate the most promising researchers working in the fields of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Chemistry. Each year, one nominee from each category is named a Laureate of the Blavatnik Awards in the UK and two finalists in each category are also recognised. The Blavatnik Awards are supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences.
Madeline’s lab conducts ground-breaking research using cerebral organoids to investigate human brain development. These organoids are generated from stem cells and allow modelling of complex, human brain development in vitro. This innovative method has led Madeline’s group to study fundamental questions of life, including why humans have comparatively large brains compared to other mammalian species.
Her lab also researches the cellular mechanisms underlying uniquely human neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and intellectual disability. Madeline has also recently shown a further application of her brain organoids, in her group’s study into how SARS-CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19) is able to infect brain cells, which may lead to long-term neurological complications.
Before arriving at the LMB in 2015, Madeline was a postdoctoral researcher at The Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) in Vienna, where she developed the first brain organoids as a way to help study brain development. Prior to this, she earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, for a thesis project studying signalling at the primary cilium.
“This award is a defining moment in my career and I could not have done it without all the hard work and dedication of my team. To be recognised in this way is very encouraging and makes me even more excited about the future!” – Madeline Lancaster
Madeline will be honoured at the Blavatnik Awards Ceremony on 28th February 2022. She is the third LMB scientist to be recognised by the Blavatnik Awards in the UK, after M. Madan Babu and John Briggs where both named in the inaugural UK awards in 2018.