Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Ph.D.

faculty photo
Mitchell J. and Margo K. Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor
Department: Biology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
3740 Hamilton Walk, 319 Leidy labs
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-898-0144
B.S. (Animal Science)
North Carolina A&T University, 2006.
Ph.D. (Cell and Molecular Biology)
University of Pennsylvania, 2012.
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Description of Research Expertise


The nervous system is exquisitely tuned to mount the appropriate behavioral response to sensory stimuli ranging from a gentle caress to a harsh mechanical insult. How our nervous systems encode this information, from the level of sensory neuron activation in peripheral tissues up towards the central nervous system, in both normal and diseased states, remains enigmatic. Taking advantage of mouse molecular and genetic tools, the Abdus-Saboor lab is addressing important questions about sensory system perception – from the level of the gene to the level of organismal behavior. Using an integrative approach spanning molecular optogenetics and chemogenetics, automated tracking of behavior coupled with high-speed videography, viral circuit tracing, calcium imaging in vivo and in vitro, and electrophysiology, our overall goal is to increase our basic understanding of the mechanisms governing encoding of somatosensory stimuli, with a particular focus on pain.


Heather Rossi, Ph.D. – Research Associate
Leah Middleton, Ph.D. student (NGG)
Melanie Schaffler, Ph.D. student (NGG)
Justin Burdge, Ph.D. student (BIO)
William Foster – Technician
Jessica Jones – Technician
+many undergraduates

Selected Publications

Jessica Jones, William Foster, Colin Twomey, Justin Burdge, Jessica Wojick, Osama Ahmed, Talmo Pereira, Gregory Corder, Joshua Plotkin, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor: A machine-vision approach for automated pain measurement at millisecond timescales. eLife 9:e57258, August 2020.

Nathan Fried, Alexander Chamessian, Mark Zylka, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor: Improving pain assessment in mice and rats with advanced videography and computational approaches. Pain 161(7): 1420-1424, July 2020.

Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Fried Nathan T, Lay Mark, Burdge Justin, Swanson Kathryn, Fischer Roman, Jones Jessica, Dong Peter, Cai Weihua, Guo Xinying, Tao Yuan-Xiang, Bethea John, Ma Minghong, Dong Xinzhong, Ding Long, Luo Wenqin: Development of a Mouse Pain Scale Using Sub-second Behavioral Mapping and Statistical Modeling. Cell reports 28(6): 1623-1634.e4, Aug 2019.

Olson William, Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Cui Lian, Burdge Justin, Raabe Tobias, Ma Minghong, Luo Wenqin: Sparse genetic tracing reveals regionally specific functional organization of mammalian nociceptors. eLife 6, 10 2017.

Cui Lian, Miao Xuerong, Liang Lingli, Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Olson William, Fleming Michael S, Ma Minghong, Tao Yuan-Xiang, Luo Wenqin: Identification of Early RET+ Deep Dorsal Spinal Cord Interneurons in Gating Pain. Neuron 91(5): 1137-1153, Sep 2016.

Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Al Nufal Mohammed J, Agha Maha V, Ruinart de Brimont Marion, Fleischmann Alexander, Shykind Benjamin M: An Expression Refinement Process Ensures Singular Odorant Receptor Gene Choice. Current biology : CB 26(8): 1083-90, 04 2016.

Fleischmann Alexander, Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Sayed Atef, Shykind Benjamin: Functional interrogation of an odorant receptor locus reveals multiple axes of transcriptional regulation. PLoS biology 11(5): e1001568, 2013.

Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Stone Craig E, Murray John I, Sundaram Meera V: The Nkx5/HMX homeodomain protein MLS-2 is required for proper tube cell shape in the C. elegans excretory system. Developmental biology 366(2): 298-307, Jun 2012.

Abdus-Saboor Ishmail, Mancuso Vincent P, Murray John I, Palozola Katherine, Norris Carolyn, Hall David H, Howell Kelly, Huang Kai, Sundaram Meera V: Notch and Ras promote sequential steps of excretory tube development in C. elegans. Development (Cambridge, England) 138(16): 3545-55, Aug 2011.

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Last updated: 08/16/2020
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