Constance L.

Dr. Smith-Hicks head shot
Phone: 443-923-2778
Kennedy Krieger Institute

707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

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Dr. Smith-Hicks is a neurologist with special qualifications in child neurology and a research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is the Medical Director for the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and the Director of Basic Science Research in Fragile X Syndrome at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She co-directs the Fragile X, SYNGAP1 and Rett Syndrome clinical programs and is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


Dr. Smith-Hicks completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry from the City College of New York (CUNY) and 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. She then 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 and joined the faculty at Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2010.

She is a member of the Child Neurology Society, the Society for Neuroscience, and the American Academy of Neurology.  She serves on several National Fragile X syndrome leadership teams and has served as a guest editor for several journals.

Dr. Smith-Hicks specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fragile X and Rett Syndrome.  She is keenly interested in other genetic causes of neuro-developmental disabilities.  


Neuro-developmental disorders affecting learning and memory result from defective communication between neurons. Dr. Smith-Hicks’ team works to understand the process by which neurons are selected to integrate into networks. Her laboratory utilizes 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 interested in understanding the effect of imbalance of excitation and inhibition on the ability of neurons to integrate into stable networks. Her work is currently directed at understanding the mechanisms relevant to Fragile X Syndrome and Down syndrome and examines the impact of novel and current experimental therapies on network formation and stability in mice.

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Research Publications

Zarate YA, Smith-Hicks CL, Greene C, Abbott MA, Siu VM, Calhoun ARUL, Pandya A, Li C, Sellars EA, Kaylor J, Bosanko K, Kalsner L, Basinger A, Slavotinek AM, Perry H, Saenz M, Szybowska M, Wilson LC, Kumar A, Brain C, Balasubramanian M, Dubbs H, Ortiz-Gonzalez XR, Zackai E, Stein Q, Powell CM, Schrier Vergano S, Britt A, Sun A, Smith W, Bebin EM, Picker J, Kirby A, Pinz H, Bombei H, Mahida S, Cohen JSFatemi AVernon HJ, McClellan R, Fleming LR, Knyszek B, Steinraths M, Velasco Gonzalez C, Beck AE, Golden-Grant KL, Egense A, Parikh A, Raimondi C, Angle B, Allen W, Schott S, Algrabli A, Robin NH, Ray JW, Everman DB, Gambello MJ, Chung WK (2018). Natural history and genotype-phenotype correlations in 72 individuals with SATB2-associated syndrome. Am J Med Genet A. 176(4), 925-935. 

Srivastava S, Desai S, Cohen JSmith-Hicks C, Barañano K, Fatemi ANaidu S (2018). Monogenic disorders that mimic the phenotype of Rett syndrome. Neurogenetics. 19(1), 41-47. 

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 (2011). Activity-induced Notch signaling in neurons requires Arc/Arg3.1 and is essential for synaptic plasticity in hippocampal networks. Neuron. 69(3), 437-44. 

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 (2010). SRF binding to SRE 6.9 in the Arc promoter is essential for LTD in cultured Purkinje cells. Nat Neurosci. 13(9), 1082-9. 

Kadam SDSmith-Hicks CLSmith DR, Worley PF, Comi AM (2010). Functional integration of new neurons into hippocampal networks and poststroke comorbidities following neonatal stroke in mice. Epilepsy Behav. 18(4), 344-57. 

Park S, Park JM, Kim S, Kim JA, Shepherd JD, Smith-Hicks CL, Chowdhury S, Kaufmann W, Kuhl D, Ryazanov AG, Huganir RL, Linden DJ, Worley PF (2008). Elongation factor 2 and fragile X mental retardation protein control the dynamic translation of Arc/Arg3.1 essential for mGluR-LTD. Neuron. 59(1), 70-83.