Dr. Isom is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. She joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Department of Pharmacology in 1995 as an Assistant Professor. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2001 and then to full Professor in 2007. She received a secondary appointment as Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology in 2009. Dr. Isom has served as the Director of the University of Michigan Program in Biomedical Sciences since 2008 and was promoted to Assistant Dean for Graduate Recruitment and Pre-candidate Education in 2010. In addition, she serves as a member of the MICHR Education and Mentoring Leadership team. Dr. Isom’s grant writing course, Introduction to Scientific Communication introduced in 1997, is widely popular among graduate students from a number of UM colleges and has resulted in numerous individual graduate student fellowship awards. Dr. Isom received a University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Award in 2009. In recognition of her contributions to neuroscience research and to graduate education, Dr. Isom was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.
Dr. Isom received her PhD in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1987. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. William A. Catterall at the University of Washington Department of Pharmacology in 1993 and was subsequently promoted to Lecturer in Pharmacology. Dr. Isom’s postdoctoral research included the first cloning, sequencing, and expression of voltage-gated sodium channel SCN1B and SCN2B, encoding b1 and b2 subunits, respectively. Dr. Isom’s research program focuses on voltage-gated sodium channel structure, function, and role in inherited disease. Her laboratory has expertise in a variety of techniques, including cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and electrophysiology. Highlights of Dr. Isom’s research program at the University of Michigan include the discovery that sodium channel b subunits, in addition to functioning as ion channel modulators, are multi-functional cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily that regulate neuronal migration, pathfinding, and fasciculation. She reported the first mutation in SCN1B linked to Dravet Syndrome in 2009 and is currently collaborating with Dr. Jack Parent and Dr. Miriam Meisler at UM to investigate SCN1A and SCN1B Dravet Syndrome mutations in human induced pluripotent stem cell neurons and cardiac myocytes. Dr. Isom’s research has been and continues to be supported by NINDS, NIMH, NMSS, the American Epilepsy Society, and AHA.
Dr. Isom has served on a number of grant study sections and external review committees and is currently a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She has supervised more than 17 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars, 10 graduate students, and 18 undergraduates in her laboratory. Dr. Isom has presented her work at many national and international scientific conferences and served as the Chair of the FASEB Summer Conference on Ion Channel Regulation in 2009.