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Phil Ball's skin cells (epithelial and fibroblasts) growing from his skin sample photo


Phil Ball's book 'How to Grow a Human' (HarperCollins) is inspired by his participation in the Brains project

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Phil Ball examining his neuronal cultures in the Wray Lab at UCL's Institute of Neurology photo : Charlie Murphy

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Researcher Christopher Lovejoy dividing the Brains in a Dish cell cultures at the lab bench photo : Charlie Murphy


Phil Ball's Prospect Magazine article

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Dr Selina Wray inspecting the Brians in a Dish neuronal cultures in the lab's incubator photo : Charlie Murphy


Phil's cells during conversion of his skin cells into neurons. This shows a colony that has been transformed to a stem cell-like state photo: Christopher Lovejoy


Phil Ball's article for The Guardian

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Lab timeline of cell development processes photo : Charlie Murphy


iPSC colonies stained with fluorescent antibody markers. The different colours indicate where genes characteristic of stem cells are activated. Photo : Selina Wray and Christopher Lovejoy, UCL/ Created Out of Mind


One of the team's organoids (brain tissue cultures) in development Photo : Selina Wray and Christopher Lovejoy, UCL/ Created Out of Mind


Phil Ball’s 2D neuronal cultures under fluorescent microscope photo : Christopher Lovejoy/Created Out of Mind / UCL

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Phil Ball’s neurons extending their axons within a 2D culture dish Stained and seen through a fluorescent microscope. Photo : Christopher Lovejoy / Created Out of Mind / Wellcome

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A slice of Philip Ball’s 'cerebral organoid' stained to reveal different types of cell. Layers of neurons are here shown in red. Image: Christopher Lovejoy, Dr Selina Wray / Created Out of Mind

Philip Ball’s Writing

Brains in a Dish collaborator Dr Philip Ball has been awarded The Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal for his outstanding commitments to sharing the social, cultural, and historical context of science through award-winning science communication in books, articles, and as a speaker and commentator.

Hear Philip discuss human genome editing and the importance of keeping historical and cultural perspectives visible in these debates at : The Royal Society, London on 11th May 2023 from 18:30 – 19:30

Since the Brains project’s instigation, Phil has published  multiple articles in national and international publications which  are inspired by his participation in the Brains project and reflect on how his skin cells are grown into neuronal cultures and considers a number of important moral, ethical and philosophical questions about our relationships between the body, brain and identity.

His articles + publications include :

“How To Grow A Human: Adventures in Who We Are and How We Are Made”  Published by HarperCollins/University of Chicago Press, 2019. This publication was launched with a talk at the Royal Institute, London in 2019

‘Why two brains are better than one’, The Observer, 31st March 2018 Philip Ball discusses his participation in our ‘Brains in a dish’ project

‘Why I’m growing a second brain’, Prospect Magazine, 16th March 2018 Writer and Created Out of Mind collaborator reflects on the 2nd stage of his growing neurons or ‘mini-brain’ as part of our Brains in a dish project.

‘Why Philosophers Are Obsessed With Brains in Jars’ The Atlantic, July 25, 2017 Preserved brains have had a mysterious appeal for decades…

Phil and the Brains team contributed to Created Out of Mind’s free online course  ‘ Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives’