J. H. Pate Skene, J.D., Ph.D.

Photo of J. H. Pate Skene

Phone: 919-681-6346

427F Bryan Research Building
Box 3209, DUMC
Durham, NC 27710-3209

Email: skene AT neuro DOT duke DOT edu

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Associate Research Professor

Neurobiology, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty, D-CIDES Member

Research Description

Both evolutionary models and experimental studies indicate that humans and other social animals have evolved neural mechanisms to represent the value or reward generate a sense of reward for cooperation and support a desire to punish or deter others who try to obtain benefits or resources unfairly. This laboratory is interested in the genes and neural mechanisms underlying those features of social cognition, and in understanding how those brain mechanisms can inform policy and practice in law. Current experimental interests focus on the genetics and neurobiology of risk, loss aversion, sensitivity to (in)justice, and retribution, especially the identification of gene variants that contribute to individual differences in those traits and the late maturation of circuits related to decision-making in adolescents.

Current legal and policy interests are in understanding sources of errors by police investigators and prosecutors in criminal cases, leading to wrongful convictions of innocent defendants; the specific effects of retribution and perceived unfairness in determining monetary damages in tort litigation; and using current understanding of risk preference, loss aversion and cooperation to guide policy development in environmental and property law.


J.D., Duke University, 2014

Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Neural Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, 1980

B.A., Molecular Biology, Vanderbilt University, 1974

Recent Publications

Tong J, Nguyen L, Vidal A, Simon SA, Skene JH, McIntosh TJ (2008). Role of GAP-43 in sequestering phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate to Raft bilayers. Biophys J. 94(1):125-133.

Tan AM, Colletti M, Rorai AT, Skene JH, Levine JM (2006). Antibodies against the NG2 proteoglycan promote the regeneration of sensory axons within the dorsal columns of the spinal cord. J Neurosci. 26(18):4729-4739.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Genomics
  • Decision making
  • Law