Constance Leonie Smith-Hicks, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Research Scientist
  • Associate Professor of Neurology


Autism, Development Delay, Neurology, Pediatric Neurology more

Research Interests

Circuits and Synaptic plasticity in Mental Retardation and Autism; Neuro-developmental disorders; Down Syndrome; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Rett Syndrome; Fragile X more


After completing her bachelors of science degree in biochemistry from the City College of New York (CUNY), Dr. Smith-Hicks entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she obtained her M.D., Ph.D. in 2000. She trained in Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her Neurology and Pediatric Neurology training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2005. Dr. Smith-Hicks trained as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine under the guidance of Dr. Paul Worley. She joined the faculty at Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2010 where she now sees patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Rett Syndrome, while conducting basic science research exploring disorders of learning and memory. more


  • Research Scientist
  • Director of Basic Science Research, Fragile X Syndrome
  • Associate Professor of Neurology

Departments / Divisions



  • MD PhD; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (2000)


  • Pediatrics; Jack D Weiler Hospital (2002)
  • Neurology; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2005)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (Neurology/Special Child Neurology) (2007)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Neuro-developmental disorders affecting learning and memory result from defective communication between neurons. Dr. Smith-Hicks is interested in understanding how neurons are selected to integrate into networks. Her laboratory uses molecular, cell imagining, biochemical and electrophysiological techniques, as well as strategies that rely on the cellular reporting of active neurons from awake, behaving animals. She is exploring the effect of imbalance of excitation and inhibition on the ability of neurons to integrate into stable networks, with current projects directed at understanding the mechanisms of Fragile X Syndrome and Down syndrome. Her studies specifically examine the effect of novel and current experimental therapies on network formation and stability in mice.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Alberi L, Liu S, Wang Y, Badie R, Smith-Hicks C, Wu J, Pierfelice TJ, Abazyan B, Mattson MP, Kuhl D, Pletnikov M, Worley PF, Gaiano N. Activity-induced Notch signaling in neurons requires Arc/Arg3.1 and is essential for synaptic plasticity in hippocampal networks. Neuron, 2011 Feb 10;69(3), 437-444

Smith-Hicks C, Xiao B, Deng R, Ji Y, Zhao X, Shepherd JD, Posern G, Kuhl D, Huganir RL, Ginty DD, Worley PF, Linden DJ. SRF binding to SRE 6.9 in the Arc promoter is essential for LTD in cultured Purkinje cells. Nature Neuroscience, 2010 Sep;13(9), 1082-1089

Kadam SD, Smith-Hicks CL, Smith DR, Worley PF, Comi AM. Functional integration of new neurons into hippocampal networks and poststroke comorbidities following neonatal stroke in mice. Epilepsy & Behavior, 2010 Aug; 18(4), 344-357

Park, S.; Park, J; Kim, S; Kim, J; Shepherd, J.D; Smith-Hicks, C.L..; Chowdhury, S; Kaufmann, W; Kuhl, D; Ryazanov, A.G.; Huganir, R; Linden, D.J.; Worley, P.F. Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 (eEF2) and Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) Control the Dynamic Translation of Arc/Arg3.1 Essential for mGluR-dependent Synaptic Depression. Neuron, 2008

Smith-Hicks, C.L.; Bridges, D.; Paynter, N; Singer, H.: A Double Blind Randomized Placebo Control Trial of Levetiracetam in Tourettes Syndrome. Movement Disorder, 2007; 15;22 (12):1764-70

Smith-Hicks, CL; Sizer, KC; Powers, JF; Tischler, AS; Costantini, F: C-cell hyperplasia, pheochromocytoma and sympathoadrenal malformation in a mouse model of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B. EMBO 2000; Vol. 19 No. 4 pp.612-622

Smith-Hicks, C; Kossoff, E: Neurocysticercosis in Treatment of Pediatric Neurologic Disorders Eds. Singer, Hartman and Crawford. (2005) pg. 303-307

Lieberman D; Smith-Hicks, C; Singer, H.: Tourette Syndrome In Animal Models of Movement Disorder. Elsevier Inc. (2005) Pg 431-440

Smith-Hicks, C.: Developmental and Pregnancy-Related Changes in Cerebrospinal Fluid Dynamics And Composition. Cerebrospinal Fluid in Clinical Practice, Editor David Irani. Elsevier/Saunders (2008)

Smith-Hicks, C; Raymond, G.V.: Developmental Disorders. Cerebrospinal Fluid in Clinical Practice, Editor David Irani. Elsevier/Saunders (2008) 

Activities & Honors


  • Neurological Science Academic Development Award, NIH, 2006 - 2009
  • Resident Research-In-Training Award, Child Neurology Foundation, 2005
  • Miriam Berkman Spotnitz Award for Excellence in Original Research, CPMC, 2000
  • Alfred Steinier Research Award, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons , 1998
  • NIGMS-MARC Pre-doctoral Fellowship , 1991 - 1996
  • Medical Scientist Training Program Award, NIH , 1991 - 2000
  • Jonas Salk Honoree, City College of NY , 1991
  • Isabella & Jerome Karle Award for Research Excellence, City College of NY, 1991
  • Seymour Nuism Research Award, City College of NY, 1991
  • Samuel W. Rover & Lewis Rover Award in Biochemistry, City College of NY , 1990


  • American Academy of Neurology, 2006
  • Child Neurology Society, 2005
  • Society for Neuroscience, 2006
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