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Brain Organoids - Opportunities and Limitations (Completed)

Intensive research on and with organoids has been conducted for several years. Organoids are organ structures that are created in vitro with the help of stem cells, i.e. outside the body. However, these are not fully developed organs. A great deal of hope and expectation is placed upon organoids: from disease modeling to drug testing and replacement of diseased tissue. Brain organoids in particular promise substantial progress for research and therapy, particularly since neurological and psychiatric diseases can usually not be investigated on animal models.

In recent years, reports on the subject of brain organoids have sometimes evoked associations with the creation of "artificial humans" or fully functional "mini-brains" in the Petri dish. Public knowledge of the fundamentals of this relatively young research, its methods and goals are still very limited. Consequently, corresponding concerns and exaggerated expectations concerning the immediate therapeutic benefit of this research can easily be voiced.

A statement to summarize the scientific background of research on brain organoids, as well as ethical and legal questions in this area, shall be prepared. The goal is to facilitate an informed discussion of this research and its applications.

Spokesperson of the Working Group

  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Knoblich, Institut für molekulare Biotechnologie (IMBA), Wien, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Österreich)
  • Prof. Dr. Hans Schöler ML, Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Biomedizin, Abteilung Zell- und Entwicklungsbiologie, Münster

Members of the Working Group

  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Elisabeth Binder ML, Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie, Abteilung Translationale Forschung in der Psychiatrie, München
  • Prof. Dr. Oliver Brüstle ML, Institut für Rekonstruktive Neurobiologie, Life & Brain Center, Universitätsklinikum Bonn
  • Prof. Dr. Magdalena Götz ML, Institut für Stammzellforschung, Helmholtz Zentrum München
  • Prof. Dr. Christine Hauskeller, Professor of Philosophy, Universität Exeter (Großbritannien)
  • Prof. Dr. Moritz Helmstaedter, Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt a.M.
  • Prof. Dr. Claus C. Hilgetag, Computational Neuroscience, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
  • Prof. Dr. Philipp Koch, Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit Mannheim, Abteilung Translationale Hirnforschung
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Lengauer ML, Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik, Saarbrücken
  • Prof. Dr. Reinhard Merkel ML, Prof. em für Strafrecht und Rechtsphilosophie, Universität Hamburg
  • PD Dr. Thomas Rauen, Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Biomedizin, Abteilung Zell- und Entwicklungsbiologie, Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Bettina Schöne-Seifert ML, Institut für Ethik, Geschichte und Theorie der Medizin, Universität Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer ML, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Kooperation mit der Max‐Planck‐Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M.
  • Prof. Dr. Jochen Taupitz ML, Seniorprofessur für Bürgerliches Recht, Zivilprozessrecht, internationales Privatrecht und Rechts¬vergleichung, Universität Mannheim

ML = Member of the Leopoldina



Dr. Henning Steinicke

Scientific officer, Deputy Head of Department Science – Policy – Society

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 864
E-Mail henning.steinicke (at)leopoldina.org