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Research groups


7th Croatian Neuroscience Congress.  Zadar, 12th015th Septemebr 2019.

Cortical Development, Neural Stem Cells to Neural Circuits, Milazzo, Sicily, Italy, May 18-22, 2020.

Cortical Layer with No Known Function

Given at the 20th TMIMS international Symposium held at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, July 2019

Zoltan Molnar

Professor of Developmental Neurobiology

My research focus is on the cerebral cortical development.  It seeks to decipher how cerebral cortical neural cell fates are determined (with special attention in the earliest generated cells in the subplate and in the large pyramidal cells of layer 5), and how development of cortical functional specialisation (arealization) is determined by genetic and environmental factors.  The arealization of the mammalian cortex is controlled by a combination of intrinsic factors that are expressed within or near the cortex, and external signals, some of which are mediated through thalamic input. Members of my research group study the generation of cortical neurons and development of the cortical connectivity in this context. 

I obtained my M.D. (summa cum laude) at the Albert Szent-Györgyi Medical University, Szeged, Hungary where I studied physiology from Professor George Benedek and started my residency in Neurological Surgery in the institute of Professor Mihaly Bodosi until I moved to Oxford in 1989. I obtained my D.Phil. at the University Laboratory of Physiology in the laboratory of Professor Colin Blakemore FRS studying the “Multiple mechanisms in the establishment of thalamocortical innervation”(thesis awarded the Biennial Rolleston Memorial Prize of Oxford and Cambridge Universities for 1994-1995). I continued my work on cerebral cortical development at Oxford as an MRC training fellow and Junior Research Fellow at Merton College. I also investigated thalamocortical development working with Professor Egbert Welker at the Institut de Biologie Cellulaire et de Morphologie, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, and learned optical recording techniques to understand early functional thalamocortical interactions in the laboratory of Professor Keisuke Toyama at Kyoto Prefectural School of Medicine, Japan.  I was appointed to a University Lecturer position at the Department of Human Anatomy and Genetics associated with a Tutorship at St John's College, Oxford from 2000. I was awarded the title Professor of Developmental Neuroscience in 2007 and appointed to Deputy Head of Department in 2013.

Most of my research funding comes from Medical Research Council UK, The Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, with postdoctoral fellowship support from HFSP, EU and with graduate studentship funding from the The Wellcome Trust, MRC, Felix Scholarship, Goodger Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarship. I also receive support for our history projects History of Medical Sciences from The Wellcome Trust and from FENS.  I currently serve on the FENS History Committee.

I am member of the MSC in Neuroscience Organising Committee. I have been senior sponsor of the Oxford Cortex Club since its establishment in 2009. I have been section editor of European Journal of Neuroscience in the past, and currently I am on the Editorial Boards of Cerebral Cortex, Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Anatomy, Brain Structure and Function, Frontiers in Neurogenesis and Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.  I currently serve on the Medical Research Council Neuroscience and Mental Health Board and on the Council of the Anatomical Society.

I am very enthusiastic about medical education (teaching contact hours over 150/year). My departmental teaching contributes to the pre-clinical training of medical and biomedical students. I give lectures and seminars in the 1st BM course mainly in the field of neurosciences; on the anatomy and development of the human central nervous system. Since 2000, I have been organizing the neuroanatomy practical classes for 2nd year medical students and contributing with more specialized lectures and seminars for the FHS (3rd year medical students) and M.Sc. Degree in Neuroscience Course. I also teach on the Principles of Clinical Anatomy Course for 3rd year medics. I have been representing Neuroscience in the Departmental Teaching Committee since 2009.  I was awarded the Medical Sciences Teaching Excellence Award in 2010.

Is brain-building a tricky business?

Video produced for Brain Diaries, an exhibition held at Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Cerebral cortical development

History of Neuroscience

Neural migration


Brain Evolution

Thalamocortical development

Direct Entry Research Degrees Doctoral Training Centre Degrees