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Photo: Isaac Pessah

Isaac Pessah- BS, MS, PhD
Professor and Researcher
Molecular Biosciences

2203 VM3B
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

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.
2011 Neurobehavioral Toxicology Society's Elsevier Distinguished Lectureship presented at their June 2011 meeting in San Diego, CA
2006-2008 Cure Autism Now, Environmental Innovator Award (Inaugural)
2002 Larry L. Hillblom Endowed Chair in Developmental Disorders in Children (nominated)
1997 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence
1988-1993 NIH First Award
1982-1983 Recipient of USDA, Predoctoral Fellowship
1980-1981 Sea Grant Predoctoral Research Grant, University of Maryland, College park, MD

Active Research Grants

Co-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, Uncovering the Molecular Basis of Malignant Hyperthermia, (Principal Investigator), Brigham & Women's Hospital

Co-Investigator, The CHARGE Study, Hertz-Picciotto (Principal Investigator), NIH/NIEHS

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

Co-Investigator, Superfund 2013-14, Bruce Hammock (Principal Investigator), NIH

Co-Investigator, CounterACT Project 3, Pamela Lein (Principal Investigator), NIH

Co-Investigator, Targeted upregulation of FMRP Expression, Paul Hagerman (Principal Investigator), DOD

Co-Investigator, CCEH Project 4 (EPA), Judith Van de Water (Principal Investigator), EPA

Most Recent 10 Publications

  • Link Icon 2013 Fritsch EB, Connon RE, Werner I, Davies RE, Beggel S, Feng W, Pessah IN Triclosan impairs swimming behavior and alters expression of excitation-contraction coupling proteins in fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Environ Sci Technol,
  • Link Icon 2013 Eltit JM, Ding X, Pessah IN, Allen PD, Lopez JR Nonspecific sarcolemmal cation channels are critical for the pathogenesis of malignant hyperthermia. FASEB J,
  • Link Icon 2012 Feng W, Hwang HS, Kryshtal DO, Yang T, Padilla IT, Tiwary AK, Puschner B, Pessah IN, Knollmann BC Coordinated regulation of murine cardiomyocyte contractility by nanomolar (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the major green tea catechin. Mol Pharmacol,
  • Link Icon 2012 Koenig CM, Walker CK, Qi L, Pessah IN, Berman RF Lack of evidence for neonatal misoprostol neurodevelopmental toxicity in C57BL6/J mice. PloS one,
  • Link Icon 2012 Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Tassone F, Tang HT, Hagerman RJ, Rogawski MA, Hagerman PJ, Pessah IN Clustered burst firing in FMR1 premutation hippocampal neurons: amelioration with allopregnanolone. Hum Mol Genet,
  • Link Icon 2012 Braunschweig D, Golub MS, Koenig CM, Qi L, Pessah IN, Van de Water J, Berman RF Maternal autism-associated IgG antibodies delay development and produce anxiety in a mouse gestational transfer model. J Neuroimmunol,
  • Link Icon 2012 Woods R, Vallero RO, Golub MS, Suarez JK, Ta TA, Yasui DH, Chi LH, Kostyniak PJ, Pessah IN, Berman RF, LaSalle JM Long-lived epigenetic interactions between perinatal PBDE exposure and Mecp2308 mutation. Hum Mol Genet,
  • Link Icon 2012 Koenig CM, Lango J, Pessah IN, Berman RF Maternal transfer of BDE-47 to offspring and neurobehavioral development in C57BL/6J mice. Neurotoxicol Teratol,
  • Link Icon 2012 Kaplan ES, Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Tassone F, Berman RF, Hagerman PJ, Pessah IN Early mitochondrial abnormalities in hippocampal neurons cultured from Fmr1 pre-mutation mouse model. J Neurochem,
  • Link Icon 2012 Mitchell MM, Woods R, Chi LH, Schmidt RJ, Pessah IN, Kostyniak PJ, LaSalle JM Levels of select PCB and PBDE congeners in human postmortem brain reveal possible environmental involvement in 15q11-q13 duplication autism spectrum disorder. Environ Mol Mutagen,

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. .