Manuel Casanova

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Manuel Casanova
Manuel Casanova.jpg
Born Manuel Casanova
Nationality American
Alma mater Johns Hopkins
Known for SmartState Chair in Childhood neurotherapeutics
Awards The Outstanding Scholar Award
Frontiers Media Spotlight Award
Scientific career
Fields Childhood Neurotherapeutics
Institutions University of South Carolina Greenville
Website Official website

Manuel F. Casanova is the SmartState Endowed Chair in Childhood Neurotherapeutics and a professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. He is a former Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Outpatient Psychiatry and a Professor of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology at the University of Louisville.[1]

Dr. Casanova has four daughters: Cristina, Sabrina, Belinda, and Melina. He has a personal blog titled "Cortical Chauvinism".[2]

Education and early career[edit]

Casanova earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico. He then completed clinical and research fellowships at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, including three years in neuropathology, where he was in-charge of pediatric neuropathology, which was when his interest in developmental disorders of the brain arose. He subsequently helped establish two brain banks, the Johns Hopkins Brain Resource Center and the Brain Bank Unit of the Clinical Brains Disorders Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Casanova spent several years as a deputy medical examiner for Washington, D.C., where he gained experience with the postmortem examination of sudden infant death syndrome and child abuse, which was when he began publishing extensively on postmortem techniques, including neuronal morphometry immunocytochemistry, neurochemistry, and autoradiography. He also worked as a consultant and was staff neuropathologist at Sinai Hospital in Maryland, the North Charles Hospital, and the D.C. General Hospital. He is also a former lieutenant commander in the US Public Health Service. After serving as a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Medical College of Georgia, he subsequently joined the University of Louisville faculty.[1]


Casanova's recent research projects have examined brain abnormalities in patients with language disturbances, including autism, dyslexia and Asperger syndrome. His interest has gradually come to focus on abnormalities of cortical neurocircuitry, in particular on the cell minicolumn, a vertical conglomerate of eighty to one hundred neurons that have in common a latency of response to stimulation.[3] Using computerized imaging analysis, he has established the anatomical validity of the cell minicolumn. Casanova has reported interhemispheric differences in the morphometry of minicolumns that could provide explanations for the speciation of hominids. Localized in Brodmann area 22—part of Wernicke’s language region—the morphometric difference may play a role both in the development of language and in related disorders.[2]

His neuromorphology research, conducted in collaboration with other researchers from around the globe, has found there are drastic differences in the brains of autistic individuals. The studies that he conducted show that minicolumns (or 'brain strands') of autism spectrum individuals have more cells, but they are narrower and more densely packed, which he says can limit the brain's ability to send messages.[4] Casanova claimed this helps explain symptoms since "there's not enough juice to actually power very long connections in the brain".[5]


His expertise in the field of postmortem techniques was recognized by honorary appointments as a Scientific Expert for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and as a Professorial Lecturer for the Department of Forensic Science at George Washington University.[6]


  • The Outstanding Scholar Award[7] (2017)

Since arriving in 2015, Dr. Casanova has continued his outstanding scholarly productivity, bringing marked recognition to both the medical school and GHS. In addition to dozens of publications and presentations over the past year, Dr. Casanova is recognized internationally for his record of ongoing scholarship on autism. For example, Dr. Casanova was elected as the inaugural president of the International Consortium of Autism Institutes (ICAI) in a ceremony in Russia. Dr. Casanova recently returned from China where he was a keynote speaker at the inauguration of the Center for National Autism Rehabilitation, which will be the largest autism center in China. He was also named to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) and led several national consensus panels sponsored by the institute. Manny has worked tirelessly to establish a network of collaborators and stakeholders since being named as the Centers of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurotherapeutics.

Scientists Mikhail Lebedev, Ioan Opris and Manuel Casanova have now published a comprehensive collection of research into brain augmentation, and their efforts have won a major European science research prize—the Frontiers Spotlight Award. This $100,000 prize is for the winners to set up a conference that highlights emerging research in their field.

View on Neurodiversity[edit]

Dr. Casanova has claimed that some members of the Neurodiversity movement compare his research to genocide. He has received disparaging phone calls and emails, and even death threats.[11] Casanova also points out that parents that support therapy or treatment for autistic children say that it will reduce their suffering and give them the best chance to succeed in adulthood, because they claim that it is not possible for society to accommodate autistics.[12] In a journal article, Casanova criticized neurodiversity advocates for ignoring the roles of Leo Kanner and Bernard Rimland in advocating for accommodations, claiming that this is because those individuals also wanted medical treatments for autism.[13] He also claimed that Neurotribes, a book written from the neurodiversity perspective, was unfairly weighted against Leo Kanner.[14]

Selected works[edit]



  • Casanova MF, Lebedev MA, and Opris I (eds), "Augmentation of brain function: facts, fiction and controversy", Front Syst Neurosci, 2017
  • Casanova MF, Casanova EL, Sokhadze EM, "Leo Kanner, the Anti-psychiatry movement and Neurodiversity", Siberian Journal of Special Education, 1-2(16-17), 6-9, 2016 (in press)
  • Casanova MF, "Neuropathological and genetic findings in autism: the significance of a putative minicolumnopathy", The NeuroScientist, 2006; in press.
  • Casanova MF, Switala AE, Trippe JT II. "A comparison study of the vertical bias of pyramidal cells in the hippocampus and neocortex", Developmental Neuroscience, 2006 (in press)
  • Casanova MF, Kooten IAJ van, Switala AE, Engeland H van, Heinsen H, Steinbusch HWM, Hof PR, Schmitz C. "Abnormalities of cortical minicolumnar organization in the prefrontal lobes of autistic patients", Clinical Neuroscience Research 2006 (in press)
  • Casanova MF, Kooten IAJ van, Switala AE, Engeland H van, Heinsen H, Steinbusch HWM, Hof PR, Trippe J, Stone J, Schmitz C, "Minicolumnar abnormalities in autism" Acta Neuropathologica, 2006; in press.
  • Casanova MF, Trippe JT II, Switala AE, "A temporal continuity to the vertical organization of the human neocortex", Cerebral Cortex, 2006 (in press)
  • El-Zehiry N, Casanova MF, Hassan H, Farag AA, "Effect of minicolumnar disturbance on dyslexic brains: an MRI study", Biomedical imaging: Macro to nano, 1336-1339, 2006
  • Casanova MF, Trippe JT II, "Regulatory mechanisms of cortical laminar development", Brain research: Brain research reviews, 2006; 51(1), 72–84.
  • Chance SA, Casanova MF, Switala AE, Crow TJ, Esiri MM, "Minicolumn thinning in temporal lobe association cortex but not primary auditory cortex in normal human ageing", Acta Neuropathologica, 2006; 111(5), 459–464
  • Kruesi MJP, Casanova MF, White matter in liars", The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2006; 188(3), 293–294
  • Seelan RS, Janckila AJ, Parthasarathy RN, Casanova MF, "The importance of using equimolar DNA for transfection analysis of the 5′ flanking promoter regions of genes", Analytical Biochemistry, 2006; 349(2), 306–308
  • Casanova MF, (editor). Recent developments in autism research, Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2005.
  • Casanova MF, (editor), Neocortical modularity and the cell minicolumn, Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2005
  • Konkachbaev AI, Casanova MF, Graham JH, Elmaghraby AS, "Automated recursive segmentation of large neocortical images using standard deviation as termination criteria", 27th Annual International Conference of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2531-2534, 2005
  • Casanova MF, "Anomalías en los circuitos corticales en los cerebros de pacientes con autismo", in: Martos J, González PM, Llorente M, Nieto C, eds. Nuevos desarrollos en autismo: el futuro es hoy, 345-371. Madrid, Librería Paradox, 2005
  • Konkachbaev AI, Elmaghraby AS, Casanova MF, "Recursive segmentation of minicolums using myelinated bundles", Proceedings of the 2nd International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, 52-55, 2005
  • Casanova MF, de Zeeuw L, Switala AE, Kreczmanski P, Korr H, Ulfig N, Heinsen H, Steinbusch HWM, Schmitz C, "Mean cell spacing abnormalities in the neocortex of patients with schizophrenia", Psychiatry Research, 133(1):1-12, 2005
  • Kruesi MJP, Casanova MF, Mannheim G, Johnson-Bilder A, "Reduced temporal lobe volume in early onset conduct disorder", Psychiatry research: Neuroimaging, 132(1):1-11, 2004
  • Buxhoeveden DP, Casanova MF, "Accelerated maturation in brains of patients with Down syndrome", Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 48(7):704-705, 2004
  • Casanova MF, "White matter volume increase and minicolumns in autism", Annals of Neurology, 56(3):453, 2004
  • Casanova MF, Araque J, Giedd J, Rumsey JM, "Reduced brain size and gyrification in the brains of dyslexic patients", Journal of Child Neurology, 19(4):275-281, 2004
  • Roy E, Casanova MF, Jerath V, "Autistic poetry as therapy", Journal of Poetry Therapy, 17(1):33-38, 2004
  • Casanova MF, "Intracortical circuitry: One of Psychiatry’s missing assumptions", European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 254(3):148-151, 2004
  • Casanova MF, Araque J, "Mineralization of the basal ganglia: implications for neuropsychiatry, pathology and neuroimaging", Psychiatry Research, 121(1):59-87, 2003
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Gomez J, "Disruption in the inhibitory architecture of the cell minicolumn: implications for autism", The Neuroscientist, 9(6):496-507, 2003
  • Casanova MF, Lindzen EC, "Changes in gray-/white-matter ratios in the parahippocampal gyri of late-onset schizophrenia patients", American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 11(6):605-9, 2003
  • Casanova MF, "Modular concept of brain organization and the neuropathology of psychiatric conditions", Psychiatry Research, 118(1):101-102, 2003.
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Switala AE, Roy E., "Rett syndrome as a minicolumnopathy", Clinical Neuropathology, 22:163-168, 2003.
  • Casanova MF, "Preservation of hippocampal pyramidal cells in paraphrenia", Schizophrenia Research, 62(1-2):141-146, 2003.
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Brown C, "Clinical and macroscopic correlates of minicolumnar pathology in autism", Journal of Child Neurology, 17:692-695, 2002
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Switala AE, Roy E., "Neuronal density and architecture (gray level index) in the brains of autistic patients", Journal of Child Neurology, 17(7):515-521, 2002
  • Buxhoeveden DP, Casanova MF, "The minicolumn and evolution of the brain: a review", Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 60(3):125-151, 2002
  • Casanova MF, Kruesi M, Mannheim G., "Hippocampal pathology in two mentally ill paraphiliacs", Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 115(1-2):79-89, 2002.
  • Casanova MF, Rothberg B, "Shape distortion of the hippocampus: a possible explanation for the reported pyramidal cell disarray in schizophrenia", Schizophrenia Research, 55(1-2):19-24, 2002
  • Buxhoeveden DP, Casanova MF, "The minicolumn hypothesis in neuroscience", Brain, 125(5):935-951, 2002.
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Cohen M, Switala AE, Roy E., "Minicolumnar pathology in dyslexia", Annals of Neurology, 52:108-110, 2002.
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Switala AE, Roy E., "Asperger’s syndrome and cortical neuropathology", Journal of Child Neurology, 17(2):142-145, 2002.
  • Casanova MF, Buxhoeveden DP, Switala AE, Roy E. Minicolumnar pathology in autism. Neurology, 58:428-432, 2002.
  • Casanova MF, Stevens J, Brown R, Royston C, Bruton C., "Disentangling the pathology of schizophrenia and paraphrenia", Acta Neuropathologica, 103:313-320, 2002
  • Buxhoeveden, D; Fobbs, A; Roy, E; Casanova, M (2002-01-01). "Quantitative comparison of radial cell columns in children with Down's syndrome and controls". Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 46 (1): 76–81. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2788.2002.00362.x. ISSN 1365-2788. 
  • Recent Developments in Autism Research (editor), Nova Biomedical Books, 2005, ISBN 1-59454-497-2


  1. ^ a b Casanova, Manuel. "Clinical Professors". Clemson University. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Casanova, Manuel. "Manuel F. Casanova, M.D." Minicolumn. Casanova and Switala. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Denworth, Lydia (24 September 2015). "Brain Stimulation Holds Promise in Autism Treatment". Newsweek. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Casanova, M F.; Buxhoeveden, DP; Switala, AE; Roy, E (12 February 2002). "Minicolumnar pathology in autism". Neurology. 58 (3): 428–32. doi:10.1212/wnl.58.3.428. PMID 11839843. 
  5. ^ Lyle, Lori. "UofL Neuroscientist So Close To Autism Breakthrough He's Helping Fund Research". WAVE3. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  6. ^ "Manuel Casanova". Autism Speaks. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "2017 Faculty & Staff Awards". School of Medicine Greenville. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Communications, Frontiers (14 June 2017). "Creating human super intelligence: winner of Spotlight Award 2017". Frontiers Blog. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  9. ^ "Brain augmentation: How scientists are working to create cyborg humans with super intelligence". Newsweek. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  10. ^ Communications, Frontiers (8 May 2017). "Human super intelligence: still science fiction or close to reality?". Frontiers Blog. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Hayasaki, Erika. "The Debate Over an Autism Cure Turns Hostile". Newsweek. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Casanova, Manuel. "Neurodiversity" (PDF). Greenville Health System. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Casanova, Manuel; Casanova, Emily (2016). "Leo Kanner, the Anti-Psychiatry Movement and Neurodiversity". Siberian Journal of Special Education. 1–2 (16-17): 6–9. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  14. ^ Harris, James C. (August 2016). "Book forum". Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 55 (8): 729–735. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2016.06.004. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 

External links[edit]

  • Manuel Casanova - Professor of Psychiatry, University of Louisville Google Scholar Profile
  • - 'UofL Neuroscientist So Close To Autism Breakthrough He's Helping Fund Research', Lori Lyle, (July 14, 2006)
  • Cortical Chauvinism - Blog of Manuel Casanova, discussing issues related to autism.