Madeleine Lancaster delves into the age-old question of what makes us human with a new approach — by growing cerebral organoids from stem cells in a petri dish and studying their development

Madeline Lancaster is a developmental, stem cell and neuro biologist at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. She leads the research group studying human brain evolution in cerebral organoids, which use stem cells to generate brain tissue clumps in a dish. These “mini brains” are the first 3D models of a developing human brain and could help uncover the secrets of what makes our brain unique.