Clinical Professors

Clinical Professors, Manuel F. Casanova, M.D. at the School of Health Research, Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Manuel F. Casanova, M.D.

Clinical Professor
Clemson University School of Health Research

SmartState Chair in Childhood Neurotherapeutics
Prisma Health–Upstate 

Contact: 864-454-4595 or  

Who is Dr. Casanova?

Manuel Casanova completed his residency training in neurology and then spent three years completing a fellowship in neuropathology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. During his stay at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Manuel was in-charge of Pediatric Neuropathology, which kindled his interest in developmental disorders of the brain. His clinical experience was enhanced by appointments as either a consultant or staff neuropathologist at Sinai Hospital (Maryland), the North Charles Hospital and the D.C. General Hospital. He spent several years as a Deputy Medical Examiner in Washington, D.C., where he gained valuable experience in the post-mortem examination of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and child abuse. His expertise in the field was recognized by honorary appointments as a Scientific Expert for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) and as a Professorial Lecturer for the Department of Forensic Science at George Washington University. Manuel spent eight years helping establish two of the most successful brain banks in this country: The Johns Hopkins Brain Resource Center (three years) and the Brain Bank Unit of the Clinical Brains Disorders Branch at the National Institutes of Mental Health (five years). Dr. Casanova trained in psychiatry at the National Institutes of Mental Health under the tutelage of Drs. Richard Wyatt, Danny Weinberger, and Joel Kleinman. He retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves and later on as a Lt. Commander in the Public Health Service. He joined the Medical College of Georgia as a full Professor in 1991 and then went to the University of Louisville in 2003 as the Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Psychiatry. In June 2014, he came to the University of South Carolina and the Prisma Health–Upstate as the SmartState Chair in Childhood neurotherapeutics and as a Professor in Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. 

For more information, see his Curriculum Vitae.

How Dr. Casanova’s research is transforming health care

Manuel’s research has focused on the cell minicolumn, a vertical conglomerate of 80 to 100 neurons having a common latency of response to stimulation. Using computerized imaging analysis, he has established the anatomical validity of the cell minicolumn. His earlier work has reported interhemispheric differences in the morphometry of minicolumns that could provide 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 its disorders. His most recent studies have looked for the presence of abnormalities of minicolumnar organization and lateralization in the brains of patients who exhibit language disturbances, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and dyslexia. He has summarized his work on minicolumns and provided an overview of the field in recent reviews of the literature appearing in “Brain and Brain, Behavior and Evolution”. 

The research conducted in Greenville focuses on how the brain processes information. Information processing is being viewed as a shared, general characteristic of the behavioral and cognitive abnormalities in autism, and thus an organizational framework for hypothesis testing. Initial research has looked at the anatomy of the cell minicolumn, the smallest cortical unit capable of information processing. Previous studies have found this anatomical and functional unit of the brain to be altered in patients with autism. Other basic research includes the study of functional circuitry associated with the impact of stimulus saliency, novelty and typicality on information processing from the visual perceptual or local level processing to the conceptual level processing. Diffusion tensor and diffusion tensor tracking are being used to investigate microstructural abnormalities in white matter pathways between brain structures related to the signs and symptoms of autism and the molecular mechanisms involved in cell-cell interaction in the cortex of autistic patients and controls. His applied research also focuses on investigating the human side of the disorder through studies of lifespan, treatment, social, and vocational activities. Initially, case definition strategies have been explored by measuring variables on cases and controls and interview data on spouses and other relatives that allow the investigation of impact of autism on the family. 

News and media related to Dr. Casanova’s research

Key Health Research Interest Areas

Autism, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neurology, Psychiatry, Pediatrics