Ishmail is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University in the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. He is also a Freeman Hrabowski Scholar at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received a B.S. degree in animal science from North Carolina A&T State University in 2006 and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, where he was supervised by Prof. Meera Sundaram. He completed postdoctoral training at Weill Cornell, then University of Pennsylvania, supervised by Profs. Ben Shykind and Wenqin Luo. He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in the Biology Department in 2018 as the Mitchell and Margo Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor. He was recruited to Columbia University in 2021 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2023. Ishmail’s research focuses on bridging the body and brain to discover mechanisms for social touch and pain. In addition to research, each fall semester, Ishmail teaches a large undergraduate lecture course on cell and molecular neurobiology.

Awards and Honors

  • Young Investigator Award, Society for Neuroscience, 2023
  • HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholar, 2023
  • McKnight Scholar, 2023
  • NIH New Innovator Award, 2022
  • Chan Zuckerberg Science Diversity Leadership Award, 2022
  • Pew Biomedical Scholar, 2022
  • Brain Research Foundation, 2022
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2021
  • Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2021
  • Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, 2020
  • Mitchell Max Award for Research Excellence, 2018
  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award, 2017
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP Postdoc Fellowship, 2015
  • NIH IRACDA Postdoc Fellowship, 2014
  • Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics, 2012

Q and A interview of Ishmail (Quanta Magazine, 2024)

Q and A interview of Ishmail (Neuron, 2021)