Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D. - IDDRC Investigator

Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Molecular Biosciences
1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, Room 2023
Davis, California 95616

Phone: 530-752-6696 / Fax: 530-752-4698

Areas of Interest

FMR1-related disorders, Autism, Neurotoxicology, Gene X Environment Interactions


Isaac Pessah is Dean of Research and Graduate Education in the School of Veterinary Medicine and was the founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health (2001-11) and currently serves as Deputy Director. His research and teaching extend broadly in molecular and cellular pharmacology and toxicology. Currently studies include malignant hyperthermia susceptibility/central core disease conferred by mutations in RYR1 and CACNA1S, FMR1 related disorders, and Rett syndrome, using human iPSC derived neurons, mouse primary neuronal culture models and brain slices.

Current IDDRC Projects

  • Molecular and cellular basis of PCB developmental neurotoxicity, NIEHS/NIH, R01 ES014901    
  • Enantioselective Metabolism Influences PCB Developmental Neurotoxicity, NIEHS/NIH, R01 ES017425
  • Autism risk, prenatal environmental exposures, and pathophysiologic marker, NIEHS/NIH, R01 ES020392     
  • Center for children’s environmental health, NIEHS/NIH P01  ES011269
  • The CHARGE study, NIEHS/NIH R01 ES015359     
  • Novel anticonvulsant and neuroprotective therapies for TETS and OP intoxication, NINDS/NIH, U54 NS079202
  • Role of astrocyte dysfunction in Rett syndrome, NICHD/NIH, R01 HD064817    
  • Targeted upregulation of FMRP expression For treatment of Fragile X Syndrome, DoD, PR120921

Recent Representative Publications

Pretto, D. I., Kumar, M., Cao, Z., Cunningham, C., Durbin, B., Li, H., Berman, R., Noctor, S., Hagerman, R. J., Pessah, I. N., Tassone F. (2014)  Reduced excitatory amino acid transporter 1 and metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 expression in the cerebellum of fragile X mental retardation gene 1 premutation carriers with fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome.  Neurobiol Aging 35,1189-1197.

Cao, Z., Hulsizer, S., Cui, Y., Pretto, D. L., Kim, K. H., Hagerman, P. J., Tassone, F., and Pessah, I. N. (2013) Enhanced asynchronous Ca2+ oscillations associated with impaired glutamate transport in cortical astrocytes expressing Fmr1 premutation expansion. J Biol Chem 288, 13831-41. PMC3650419

Girirajan, S., Johnson, R. L., Tassone, F., Balciuniene, J., Katiyar, N., Fox, K., Baker, C., Srikanth, A., Yeoh, K. H., Khoo, S. J., Nauth, T. B., Hansen, R., Ritchie, M., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Eichler, E. E., Pessah, I. N., Selleck, S. B. (2013) Global increases in both common and rare copy number load associated with autism. Human Molec Genetics 22, 2870-80. PMC3690969

Liu, J.*, Kościelska, K. A.*, Cao, Z.*, Hulsizer, S., Grace, N., Mitchell, G., Nacey, C., Githinji, J., McGee, J., Hagerman, R. J,. Nolta, J., Pessah, I. N., Hagerman, P. J.  (2012)  Signaling defects in iPSC-derived fragile X premutation neurons. Human Molec Genetics 21, 3795-805.  *equally contributed PMC3412379

Cao, Z., Hulsizer, S., Tassone, F., Tang, H., Hagerman, R. J., Rogawski, M. A., Hagerman, P. J., and Pessah, I. N.   (2012)  Clustered burst firing in FMR1 premutation hippocampal neurons: Amelioration with allopregnanolone.  Human Molec. Genetics 21, 2923-35. PMC3373240