Isaac Pessah

image of Isaac Pessah

Professor and Assoc Dean Research and Graduate Education


VM Molecular Biosciences

Offices and Labs

2203 VM3A
(530) 752-6696

Profile Introduction

Molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating ryanodine receptors and Ca2+ signaling


1983 PhD Toxicology University of Maryland
1981 MS Toxicology University of Maryland
1977 BS Biology Cornell University

Research Contribution

Participated in the discovery of ryanodine receptors. Helped raise awareness of environmental triggers of clinical disorders.

Research Interests

Gene by environment interactions contributing to neuromuscular and neurodevelopmental disorders

Molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating ryanodine receptors and Ca2+ signaling


Pfizer Research Excellence
Elsevier Distinguished Lectureship
CAN/Autism Speaks Environmental Innovator

Department and Center Affiliations

Deputy Director, Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention


Biophysical Society
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Society of Toxicology
American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology

Specialties / Focus

Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology
  • Cellular Physiology
  • Neurophysiology

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS



Pessah Lab 1278,1279,1282 Surge III website
  • Wei Feng, Gennady Cherednychenko, Susan Hulsizer, Yao Dong, Kim Truong, Ray Zhang, Yassaman Niknam, Erika Fritsch, Kyla Walter

Teaching Interests

Principles of Pharmacodynamics and Toxicodynamics (PTX202) - Receptor occupancy theory. Structure, function, and pharmacology of ion channels and Receptors coupled to GTP-binding proteins. Principles of Pharmacology (VMD414A) - Pharmacodynamics Physiological Chemistry (VMD403) - Principles of cell signaling

Personal Interests

Road bicycling website
Sailing website
Hiking website


9/7/2013 4:29:23 PM
  • Nanomolar bifenthrin alters synchronous Ca2+ oscillations and cortical neuron development independent of sodium channel activity. Cao Z, Cui Y, Nguyen HM, Jenkins DP, Wulff H, Pessah IN Mol Pharmacol 2014 85(4):630-9.


  • Structure-activity relationship of selected meta- and para-hydroxylated non-dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyls: from single RyR1 channels to muscle dysfunction. Niknam Y, Feng W, Cherednichenko G, Dong Y, Joshi SN, Vyas SM, Lehmler HJ, Pessah IN. Toxicol Sci. 2013 Dec;136(2):500-13.


  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling regulates NF-κB RelB activation during dendritic-cell differentiation. Vogel CF, Wu D, Goth SR, Baek J, Lollies A, Domhardt R, Grindel A, Pessah IN. Immunol Cell Biol. 2013 91(9):568-75.

  • Structure-activity relationship of non-coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls toward skeletal muscle ryanodine receptors in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Fritsch EB, Pessah IN. Aquat Toxicol. 2013 Sep 15;140-141:204-12.
  • Simultaneous determination of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polychlorinated biphenyls by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in human serum and plasma. Lin YP, Pessah IN, Puschner B. Talanta. 2013 Sep 15;113:41-8.
  • Enhanced asynchronous Ca(2+) oscillations associated with impaired glutamate transport in cortical astrocytes expressing Fmr1 gene premutation expansion. Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Cui Y, Pretto DL, Kim KH, Hagerman PJ, Tassone F, Pessah IN. J Biol Chem. 2013 May 10;288(19):13831-41.
  • Global increases in both common and rare copy number load associated with autism. Girirajan S, Johnson RL, Tassone F, Balciuniene J, Katiyar N, Fox K, Baker C, Srikanth A, Yeoh KH, Khoo SJ, Nauth TB, Hansen R, Ritchie M, Hertz-Picciotto I, Eichler EE, Pessah IN, Selleck SB. Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Jul 15;22(14):2870-80.
  • Triclosan impairs swimming behavior and alters expression of excitation-contraction coupling proteins in fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Fritsch EB, Connon RE, Werner I, Davies RE, Beggel S, Feng W, Pessah IN. Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Feb 19;47(4):2008-17.
  • Early mitochondrial abnormalities in hippocampal neurons cultured from Fmr1 pre-mutation mouse model. Kaplan ES, Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Tassone F, Berman RF, Hagerman PJ, Pessah IN. J Neurochem. 2012 Nov;123(4):613-21.
  • Triclosan impairs excitation-contraction coupling and Ca2+ dynamics in striated muscle. Cherednichenko G, Zhang R, Bannister RA, Timofeyev V, Li N, Fritsch EB, Feng W, Barrientos GC, Schebb NH, Hammock BD, Beam KG, Chiamvimonvat N, Pessah IN. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 28;109(35):14158-63.
  • Tetramethylenedisulfotetramine alters Ca²⁺ dynamics in cultured hippocampal neurons: mitigation by NMDA receptor blockade and GABA(A) receptor-positive modulation. Cao Z, Hammock BD, McCoy M, Rogawski MA, Lein PJ, Pessah IN. Toxicol Sci. 2012 Dec;130(2):362-72.
  • Identification of expanded alleles of the FMR1 Gene in the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genes and Environment (CHARGE) study. Tassone F, Choudhary NS, Tassone F, Durbin-Johnson B, Hansen R, Hertz-Picciotto I, Pessah I. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Mar;43(3):530-9.
  • Signaling defects in iPSC-derived fragile X premutation neurons. Liu J, Koscielska KA, Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Grace N, Mitchell G, Nacey C, Githinji J, McGee J, Garcia-Arocena D, Hagerman RJ, Nolta J, Pessah IN, Hagerman PJ. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Sep 1;21(17):3795-805.
  • Clustered burst firing in FMR1 premutation hippocampal neurons: amelioration with allopregnanolone. Cao Z, Hulsizer S, Tassone F, Tang HT, Hagerman RJ, Rogawski MA, Hagerman PJ, Pessah IN. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jul 1;21(13):2923-35.
  • Gene dose influences cellular and calcium channel dysregulation in heterozygous and homozygous T4826I-RYR1 malignant hyperthermia-susceptible muscle. Barrientos GC, Feng W, Truong K, Matthaei KI, Yang T, Allen PD, Lopez JR, Pessah IN. J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 20;287(4):2863-76.