This site uses cookies, so that our service can work better. I understand

Zoltán Molnár

Opening lecture

Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford

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.


Cortical layer with no known function

The lowermost cell layer of the cerebral cortex that contains interstitial white matter cells in humans has great clinical relevance. These neurons express higher proportions of susceptibility genes linked to human cognitive disorders than any other cortical layer and their distribution is known to be altered in schizophrenia and autism. In spite of these clinical links, our current knowledge on the adult layer 6b is limited. These cells are the remnants of the subplate cells that are present in large numbers and play key role in the formation of cortical circuits but a large fraction of them die during postnatal development. The adult population that remains in all mammals to form interstitial white matter cells in human or layer 6b in mouse display unique conserved gene expression and connectivity. We study their input and output using combined anatomical, genetic and physiological approaches. Selected cortical areas, relevant for sensory perception, arousal and sleep (V1, S1, M1, prefrontal cortex) are studied using chemogenetic and optogenetic methods. Our preliminary data suggest that 6b is not just a developmental remnant cell population in the adult, but a layer that plays a key role in cortical state control, integrating and modulating information processing.
Hoerder-Suabedissen A, Upton AL, Grant EL, Korrell KV, Viswanathan S, Kanold PO, Kim Y, Molnár Z (2016) Cortical layer 6b neurons selectively innervate higher order nuclei in the thalamus. SFN Abstract 678.03.
Guidi L, Korrell KV, Hoerder-Suabedissen A, Oliver PL, Wilson MC, Kanold PO, Bannerman D, Molnár Z (2016) Functional role of cortical layer VIb in mouse behaviour. SFN Abstract 634.16.
Hayashi S, Hoerder-Suabedissen A, Molnár Z (2017) Ultrastructural characterisation of cortical layer 6b axon terminals in the posterior thalamic nucleus. Cortical Development Meeting Abstracts, Chania.

Supported by MRC (MR/N026039/1)