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Research groups

Anna Hoerder-Suabedissen

DPhil, MSc, BSc

Departmental Lecturer

  • Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Research Interests

My research is focussed on early brain development, and in particular on the subplate layer and the claustrum. The subplate is a partially transient structure separating the cortical grey matter from the underlying white matter, the claustrum is remarkable for its high degree of connectivity with almost all regions of the cortex. 

I have contributed significantly to identifying different cell types that comprise the subplate layer in rodents, using microarrays, RNAseq technology and transgenic mouse lines. Curiously, while many of the genes with subplate enriched expression are also expressed in the claustrum, as subset of ‘subplate marker’ genes are specifically absent from claustrum, but expressed in all tissue surrounding it.

Currently, I am investigating ways and means of labelling the young postnatal claustrum, including the use of molecular markers that either specifically label the claustrum (‘positive markers’), or are specifically excluded just from the claustrum but otherwise expressed in lateral cortex (‘negative markers’) as a preliminary step to investigating the development of claustro-cortical connectivity. I have previously used similar techniques to determine the functional connectivity of the adult remnant of the subplate – layer 6b. Layer 6b cells project to nearby and distant cortex – particularly layer I and other layer 6b cells, as well as to thalamus. Some layer 6b cells have topographical projections specifically to higher order thalamic nuclei, without synapsing in the thalamic reticular nucleus, which makes their projections quite distinct from the adjacent layer 6a.

A second strand of my research in brain development is the role of neuronal activity during brain development. Specifically, I use SNAP25 conditional knock-out in selected cell populations to abolish action-potential evoked neurotransmitter release, thereby largely ‘silencing’ the output of developing cortical neurons. This has consequences both at the circuit level, as well as for the viability of individual neurons and their axons, and surprisingly varied behavioural consequences depending on the particular cell population silenced.

Brief Biography

I was recently appointed a Departmental Lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, and am currently working in the laboratory of Adam Packer. I have been a College Lecturer for Neuroscience at Trinity College since 2016, following a brief stint in a similar role at Keble. 

My post-doc research was mostly conducted in the laboratory of Zoltán Molnár, and more recently in that of Francis Szele. I completed my DPhil (PhD) as a Wellcome Trust funded Biological Sciences Scholar at St Hugh’s College (Oxford), under the joint supervision of Profs Ole Paulsen and Zoltán Molnár in 2007. I first came to Oxford for my MSc in Neuroscience in 2002, after completing my undergraduate degree in in Combined Sciences (Physiology, Genetics and Physics) at the University of Lancaster, UK. In between, I spent a year studying in the US at UC San Diego and a summer as Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in Prof Steve Meriney’s lab investigating calcium signalling at the frog neuromuscular junction.