Body of Knowledge: Self-Organizing Brain Cells


Collin Edington, Iris Lee, Linda Griffith

The image shows a brain organoid grown on a synthetic PEG hydrogel.


Collin Edington, Iris Lee, Linda Griffith
MIT Department of Biological Engineering and Koch Institute

Imagine a uniform field of neural stem cells sitting on gel-like matrix. Slowly, they begin to differentiate, grouping and clustering together until they have self-assembled into a mini-organ--a brain!

The neurons (green) and astrocytes (red) seen here are part of the Griffith Lab's “Human on a Chip" project. Many different “mini-organs” are linked together in a bioreactor platform, allowing researchers to study the interactions of multiple organs and the crosstalk between them in an in vitro setting, and to accelerate the development of novel disease treatments.


Collin Edington and Iris Lee describe the science behind their image. You can also watch the presentation from the exhibition opening event on March 23, 2017 here.