Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Research Interest

Short Research Description

Genes and neural circuits for pain and touch behavior

Full Research Description

Our research focuses on a long-standing question, “how does the nervous system encode a soft gentle caress, versus an itchy mosquito bite, versus a harsh painful stimulation?” And importantly, how do encoding principles change when the baseline state changes, such as during chronic pain. To accomplish this, we use systems neuroscience, computation, genetics, and mathematics to link animal behavior with genes and neural circuits.


Elias L, Succi I, Schaffler M, Foster W, Gradwell M, Bohic M, Fushiki A, Upadhyay A, Ejoh L, Schwark R, Frazer R, Bistis B, Burke J, Saltz V, Boyce J, Jhumka A, Costa R, Abraira V, Abdus-Saboor, I. Touch neurons underlying dopaminergic pleasurable touch and sexual receptivity. Cell 186, 577–590 (2023).

Toussaint A, Foster W, Jones JM, Kaufmann S, Wachira M, Hughes R, Bongiovanni AR, Famularo ST, Dunham B, Schwark R, Karbalaei R, Dressler C, Bavley CC, Fried NT, Wimmer M, Abdus-Saboor I. “Chronic paternal morphine exposure increases sensitivity to morphine-derived pain relief in male progeny”. Science Advances eabk2425 (2022).

Jones J.M., Foster W., Twomey C.R., Burdge J., Ahmed O.M., Pereira T.D., Wojick J.A., Corder G., Plotkin J.B., Abdus-Saboor I. “A machine-vision approach for automated pain measurement at millisecond timescales.” eLife 9:e57258 (2020).
Abdus-Saboor I., Fried N.T., Lay M., Burdge J., Swanson K., Fischer R., Jones J., Dong P., Cai W., Guo X., Tao Y.X., Bethea J., Ma M., Dong X., Ding L., Luo W. “Development of a mouse pain scale using sub-second behavioral mapping and statistical modeling.” Cell Reports 6;28(6):1623-1634 (2019).
Olson W., Abdus-Saboor I., Cui L., Burdge J., Raabe T., Ma M., Luo W. “Sparse genetic tracing reveals regionally specific functional organization of mammalian nociceptors.” eLife 12;6:e29507 (2017).
Cui L., Miao X., Liang L., Abdus-Saboor I., Olson W., Fleming M.S., Ma M., Tao Y.X., Luo W. “Identification of early RET+ deep dorsal spinal cord interneurons in gating pain.” Neuron 91, 1–17 (2016).