Ishmail Abdus-Saboor was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He received his bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from North Carolina A&T University in 2006 and earned his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2012 with Meera Sundaram at the University of Pennsylvania studying signal transduction pathways during development of the roundworm C.elegans. His PhD thesis work was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and recognized with the Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research. He completed postdoctoral training with Benjamin Shykind at Weill Cornell Medical College studying monoallelic gene expression of olfactory receptors and Wenqin Luo at the University of Pennsylvania studying neural circuit mechanisms for somatosensation. As a postdoctoral fellow his research was supported by several competitive grants from the NIH and Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Ishmail opened his lab in July of 2018 as the Mitchell J. and Margo Krody Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to generous startup funds from the University of Pennsylvania, the Abdus-Saboor lab is supported by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence grant from the NIH.

To learn more about Ishmail’s path towards a career in science, check out these feature articles by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Penn Medicine News:

To learn more about Ishmail's graduate school work and his Tom Kadesch Genetic Prize at UPenn see this feature:

To listen to Ishmail talk about setting up a biology lab at home at age 14, his experiences at a historically black college, and advice for younger students, check out this interview:

To read Ishmail being interviewed by Michelle Johnson of Penn’s MindCore interdisciplinary institute, click below. The content of this interview is geared towards a more lay audience.


1) Reading memoirs and biographies, especially related to the history of molecular biology and genetics. 2) Spending quality time with family. 3) Watching professional basketball, especially Lebron James, the greatest basketball player of all time.