American scientist Madeline Lancaster, Ph. D. (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Laboratory of Juergen Knoblich at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, IMBA, Vienna, Austria) has won the 2014 Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators. The Award ceremony took place at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre in Heidelberg, Germany, on 22 May 2014.

Madeline Lancaster, born 1982, received the Eppendorf Award for her work showing that complex neuronal tissues resembling early states of foetal human brain can be created from pluripotent stem cells. 

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The Jury: "Madeline Lancaster’s groundbreaking experiments allow the recapitulation of the development of brain structures in a three-dimensional organoid for the first time. Madeline Lancaster also documented that diseases caused by aberrant development such as microcephaly can be reproduced in the organoid culture. These discoveries allow for novel approaches towards the understanding of neurological diseases."

Madeline Lancaster: "The human brain exhibits dramatic evolutionary and developmental expansion, a process that has been difficult to examine in traditional animal models. In order to gain insight into this uniquely human process, my work focuses on the use of a 3D model system of human brain development, termed cerebral organoids, to examine regulators of brain size in the context of human evolution and neurodevelopmental disease.

This award is a recognition of the potential of stem cell technologies to model human development and disease. It is testament to the power of combining diverse fields to shed light on key questions, and it would not have been possible without the important contributions of our collaborators, and the supportive environment of the Knoblich group and IMBA." Read more about Madeline Lancaster’s work.

With the €15,000 Eppendorf Young Investigator Award - which was established in 1995 - Eppendorf AG honours outstanding work in biomedical research and supports young scientists in Europe up to the age of 35. The Award winner is selected by an independent committee composed of the Chairman Prof. Reinhard Jahn (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany), Prof. Dieter Häussinger (Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectiology, Düsseldorf, Germany), Prof. Maria Leptin (EMBO, Heidelberg, Germany) and Prof. Martin J. Lohse (Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Würzburg, Germany).


The Eppendorf Award is presented in partnership with the scientific journal Nature. The Award ceremony has been held at the EMBL Advance Training Centre since 2011.

The application period for the Eppendorf Award 2015 will start on 1 October 2014. More information at