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Professor Zoltán Molnár talks to Associate Professor Chrystalina Antoniades for an in-depth look at the Circle of Willis, the name given to the arterial ring at the base of the brain, in recognition of the man renowned for its original description.

Cerebri Anatome illustration of the Circle of Willis (Christopher Wren), a modern angiogram of the Circle of Willis, informal portrait outside of Chystalina Antoniades
L-R: the Circle of Willis in Cerebri Anatome (1664), modern day angiogram of the circle, and Associate Professor Chrystalina Antoniades

Thomas Willis is regarded as the founder of modern clinical neuroscience and comparative neuroanatomy, and today he is mainly remembered for his description of the arterial circle that supplies blood to the brain and surrounding structures in reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans. While he never claimed that honour for himself, and indeed portions of the circle had already been described by others to some degree, Thomas Willis is recognised as the first to demonstrate the functional significance of the circle.

With the 400th anniversary of Willis's birth just two days away, Professor Zoltán Molnár invites Associate Professor of Neuroscience Chrystalina Antoniades from Oxford's Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences to provide a description of the Circle of Willis, a term still widely used to describe the arterial circle in teaching and scientific papers today, for the modern age.

Chrystalina Antoniades in conversation with Zoltán Molnár: The Circle of Willis from DPAG Digital Media on Vimeo.


Later this week, to mark Willis's birthday itself on Wednesday 27 January, we will hear from renowned Willis expert and author of the soon to be published definitive bio-bibliography on Thomas Willis, Professor Alastair Compston.


Thomas Willis: 400th anniversary lecture by Zoltán Molnár at the NeurotechEU opening

Thomas Willis (1621-1675) 400th Anniversary Lecture, Anatomical Society Meeting 2021 - Zoltán Molnár

Molnár, Zoltán, "Thomas Willis (1621-1675), the Founder of Clinical Neuroscience", Nature Review Neuroscience 5:4 (2004), 329-35

Thomas Willis (1621 - 1675) Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Founder of Neurology online exhibition (see under current exhibitions, St John's College)