2:00-3:00 Advances in brain organoid technologies and their applications to human biology

Dr Madeline Lancaster

The human brain 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 an in vitro human model system, called cerebral organoids. These 3D tissues are generated from human pluripotent stem cells through directed differentiation and a supportive 3D microenvironment to generate organoids with the stereotypic organisation of the early human fetal brain. We have now extended these methods to model later events in neurodevelopment, including neuronal migration and positioning, axon guidance, and neuronal maturation. These newer approaches can model CNS tract formation with the generation of neural circuits, and even functional output through a motor circuit to modulate and activate muscle contractions. Finally, we are continuing to advance these methods and have devised choroid plexus organoids as a model of the human blood-CSF barrier for testing CNS penetrance. Overall, these methods have applications to understanding human brain development and its associated defects in neurological disorders, as well as potential for drug efficacy and safety testing.


3:00-3:30 — NC3Rs funding opportunities and how to submit a competitive application

Katie Bates

Katie will give an overview of the different funding schemes available at the NC3Rs. The NC3Rs offer a range of funding schemes to support projects, early career awards and skills and knowledge transfer. They also fund the commercialisation of 3Rs technologies through the CRACK IT programme. The second part of the talk will focus on how to submit a competitive grant application to the NC3Rs.


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.

Katie Bates is the science lead for research funding schemes, including project grants and strategic awards, at the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).


Image by Ethan Tyler and Lex Kravitz via SciDraw (CC-BY 4.0)