Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Mitchell J. and Margo K. Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor, Biology

B.S., North Carolina A&T University

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

In conjunction with Open Philanthropy

My research focuses on a long-standing question—how does the nervous system encode a soft gentle caress versus a harsh painful stimulation? To accomplish this, the Abdus-Saboor Lab uses neurobiology, computational biology, and mathematics to objectively measure pain—a sensory experience that is inherently subjective. Traditionally, researchers have applied sensory stimuli to the rodent paw and tried to infer the animal’s pain state based on the singular readout of whether the animal moved its paw or not. The problem is, animals will lift their paw to both innocuous and noxious stimuli; and with that sole measurement parameter, there is a high likelihood of incorrectly assigning the animal’s sensory experience. An innovation in our work is to use videography to take thousands of images per second to measure sub-second pain behaviors, and couple this with statistical modeling and machine learning to develop rodent “pain scales.”