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Dr. Patricia Maness was first to discover that proto-oncogenes play normal roles in cell differentiation. She revealed that the Src proto-oncogene regulates axon guidance in the developing nervous system. She transformed our understanding of neural cell adhesion molecules through novel mouse genetic models, identifying immunoglobulin-class CAMs as signaling receptors for repellent and attractant axon guidance cues (Semaphorins and Ephrins) vital to establishing neuronal connectivity in the developing brain. Recently she uncovered a novel selective spine pruning mechanism that eliminates overproduced dendritic spines in adolescence, thus shedding light on neurodevelopmental disorders (autism, schizophrenia) where excitatory-inhibitory balance in cortical networks is disrupted. Current studies focus on understanding how the high confidence autism risk gene Ankyrin2 affects cortical circuits leading to autistic behaviors such as learning and social deficits. Other studies focus on inhibitory interneurons, basket cells, and how they make synapses onto principal neurons (pyramidal neurons) in the prefrontal cortex. Synapses formed by CCK expressing basket interneurons appear to be targets of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid drugs of abuse. How these agents affect circuitry by remodeling basket cell synapses is under current investigation.


1970 – 1975 Rosalie Hite Predoctoral Fellow (Ph.D.), University of Texas, Houston
1976 – 1978 The Anna Fuller Fund Postdoctoral Fellow, Rockefeller University
1978 – 1980 Assistant Professor, Rockefeller University
1980 – 1986 Assistant Professor, Dept. Biochemistry, UNC-CH
1986 – 1992 Associate Professor, Dept. Biochemistry, UNC-CH
1992 – Present Professor, Dept. Biochemistry, UNC-CH School of Medicine
Present       UNC Neuroscience Research Center
Present       Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities


Honors and Activities

2008 – 2013 Editorial Board, Journal of Biological Chemistry
2009 – Present Editorial Board, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
Hilton Distinguished Investigator, NARSAD
NIH Research Career Development Award
Jefferson-Pilot Award in Academic Research
Sigma Xi Award for Research
2014 – 2017 Member, NIH Study Section NDPR
2018 Pogue Fellowship for Scholarly Research