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Photo: Isaac Pessah

Isaac Pessah- BS, MS, PhD
Molecular Biosciences

1116A Haring Hall
Davis, CA 95616

+1 530 752 6696


Research Focus

Molecular and Cellular Signaling


Molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating cellular Ca2+ signaling. The structure, function, and pharmacology of ryanodine-sensitive calcium channels of sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum in striated muscle and mammalian brain. Role of immunophilins in Ca2+-dependent and independent signaling cascades. Genetic and xenobiotic factors influencing malignant hyperthermia susceptibility Mechanisms responsible for the developmental neurotoxicity of halogenated aromatics Genetic and environmental factors influencing neurodevelopment

Specialty Focus




1977 BS , Cornell University, Ithaca, New York,
1981 MS , University of Maryland, Baltimore,
1983 PhD Toxicology, University of Maryland, College Park

Honors and Awards

1980-1981 Sea Grant Predoctoral Research Grant, University of Maryland, College park, MD
1982-1983 Recipient of USDA, Predoctoral Fellowship
1988-1993 NIH First Award
1997 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence
2002 Larry L. Hillblom Endowed Chair in Developmental Disorders in Children (nominated)
2006-2008 Cure Autism Now, Environmental Innovator Award (Inaugural)
2011 Neurobehavioral Toxicology Society's Elsevier Distinguished Lectureship presented at their June 2011 meeting in San Diego, CA
2012 NIH Honor Isaac Pessah has accepted the invitation of the NIH Center for Scientific Review to serve in the Neurotoxicology and Alcohol Study Section from July 2012 through June 2016. Members are selected for the quality of their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. Pessah’s participation is important in assuring the quality of the NIH peer review process. Membership in this group is both an honor and a major commitment of professional time and energy resulting in a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort.

Active Research Grants

Principal Investigator, Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research, (Principal Investigator), PHS/NIEHS

Co-Principal Investigator, Molecular and Cellular Basis of PCB Developmental Neurotoxicity, P. Lein (Principal Investigator), NIH/NIEHS

Principal Investigator, Enantioselective Metabolism Influences PCB Developmental Neurotoxicity, (MPI); Lehmler (contact) (Principal Investigator), NIH/NIEHS

Co-Principal Investigator, Subaward of Autism Risk, Prenatal Environmental Exposures and Pathophysiologic Markers, Hertz-Picciotto (Principal Investigator), NIH

Principal Investigator, Project 2: Uncovering Basis of Malignant Hyperthermia, Paul Allen (Principal Investigator), NIH

Most Recent 10 Publications

  • Link Icon 2011 Barrientos GC, Feng W, Truong K, Matthaei KI, Yang T, Allen PD, Lopez JR, Pessah IN Gene-dose influences cellular and calcium channel dysregulation in heterozygous and homozygous T4826I-RYR1 malignant hyperthermia susceptible muscle J Biol Chem,
  • Link Icon 2011 Yuen B, Boncompagni S, Feng W, Yang T, Lopez JR, Matthaei KI, Goth SR, Protasi F, Franzini-Armstrong C, Allen PD, Pessah IN Mice expressing T4826I-RYR1 are viable but exhibit sex- and genotype-dependent susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia and muscle damage. FASEB J,
  • Link Icon 2011 Braunschweig D, Duncanson P, Boyce R, Hansen R, Ashwood P, Pessah IN, Hertz-Picciotto I, Van de Water J Behavioral correlates of maternal antibody status among children with Autism J Autism Dev Disord,
  • Link Icon 2011 Ashwood P, Krakowiak P, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hansen R, Pessah I, Van de Water J Elevated plasma cytokines in autism spectrum disorders provide evidence of immune dysfunction and are associated with impaired behavioral outcome Brain Behav Immun,
  • Link Icon 2011 Eltit JM, Li H, Ward CW, Molinski T, Pessah IN, Allen PD, Lopez JR Orthograde dihydropyridine receptor signal regulates ryanodine receptor passive leak Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A,
  • Link Icon 2011 Tassone F, Qi L, Zhang W, Hansen RL, Pessah IN, Hertz-Picciotto I MAOA, DBH, and SLC6A4 variants in CHARGE: a case-control study of autism spectrum disorders Autism Res,
  • Link Icon 2011 Kim KH, Pessah IN Perinatal exposure to environmental polychlorinated biphenyls sensitizes hippocampus to excitotoxicity ex vivo Neurotoxicology,
  • Link Icon 2011 Hertz-Picciotto I, Bergman A, Fängström B, Rose M, Krakowiak P, Pessah I, Hansen R, Bennett DH Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in relation to autism and developmental delay: a case-control study Enviorn Health,
  • Link Icon 2011 Ashwood P, Krakowiak P, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hansen R, Pessah IN, Van de Water J Altered T cell responses in children with autism Brain Behav Immun,
  • Link Icon 2011 Kim KH, Bose DD, Ghogha A, Riehl J, Zhang R, Barnhart CD, Lein PJ, Pessah IN Para- and ortho-substitutions are key determinants of polybrominated diphenyl ether activity toward ryanodine receptors and neurotoxicity Environ Health Perspect,

Most Recent 5 Book Chapters

2011 Lein PJ, Barnhart CD, Pessah IN: Acute Hippocampal Slice Preparation and Hippocampal Slice Cultures, Chapter 8, L Costa, (ed), In vitro Toxicology, Methods in molecular biology, Clifton, NJ. 115-134.

2011 Stafstrom CE, Hagerman PJ, Pessah IN: Pathophysiology of epilepsy in autism spectrum disorders, Noebels JL, Avoli M, Rogawski MA, Olsen RW, Delgado-Escueta AV, (ed), Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies, Fourth Edition. .

2010 Berman RF, Koeinig C, Hunsaker MR, Pessah IN, LaSalle JM: Neurodevelopmental Toxicology and Autism Spectrum Disorders, Wang C, Slikker W, (ed), Developmental Neurotoxicity Research: Principles, Models, Techniques, Strategies and Mechanisms, Somerset, NJ. .

2010 Pessah IN: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Wang C, Slikker W, (ed), Developmental Neurotoxicity Research: Principles, Models, Techniques, Strategies and Mechanisms, Somerset, NJ. .

2010 Lein PJ, Kim KH, Berman RF, Pessah IN: Exposure of the Developing Brain to Polychlorinated Biphenyls Influences the Susceptibility of the Adult Brain to Stress, Wang C, Slikker W, (ed), Developmental Neurotoxicity Research: Principles, Models, Techniques, Strategies and Mechanisms, Somerset, NJ. .