Dr. Abbas is an associate professor in the microbiology department and a member of the Molecular Genetics Research Group at Howard University's Cancer Center/National Human Genome Center (NHGC). His expertise in DNA analyses and HLA genotyping plays a crucial role in NHGC's ongoing research program, particularly in the field of cancer research and addressing health disparities. Additionally, Dr. Abbas serves as an Associate Professor of Microbiology in the College of Medicine, having obtained his Ph.D. from Howard University (HU).
The primary focus of Dr. Abbas's research revolves around investigating polymorphisms in genes associated with innate and acquired immune responses, with a specific emphasis on their relevance to health disparities. His research stems from the understanding that the host immune system's primary function is to adapt to environmental pathogens, leading to the emergence of genomic polymorphisms that confer protection against these pathogens. Dr. Abbas's interests in immunogenetics also extend to immunoreactive cancers. As an influential figure in the HU-NHGC, he currently oversees the evaluation and cataloging of cancer specimens displaying lymphocyte infiltration, with the ultimate goal of analyzing the expression profiles of these cancers and identifying neo-antigens presented by such tumors.
Furthermore, Dr. Abbas is an investigator and member of the Quantum Biology Lab, led by Dr. Philip Kurian, where he has secured grants to study quantum phenomena in biological systems. He also serves as the supervisor of the Howard University-National Human Genome Center (HU-NHGC) sequencing core and holds the position of Molecular Genetics Director. Additionally, he acts as the Director of the NHGC/HU Sickle Cell Disease Center Biorepository, overseeing the collection, handling, processing, and storage of valuable clinical and environmental samples obtained through specific projects. These collective efforts aim to establish a centralized Biorepository infrastructure at HU, facilitating the rapid translation of basic research findings into effective treatments and cures.
Dr. Abbas has also fostered collaborations to explore genetic and epigenetic variations in neurotransmitter receptor genes and their associations with certain behaviors such as addiction and exposure to violence. This collaborative work has led to a pilot grant investigating genetic variations in the human serotonin receptor gene (5-HT7) and its potential connection to immune response and HIV/AIDS. Currently, Dr. Abbas serves as a co-investigator on an R01 grant that focuses on studying violence exposure, immune functions, and HIV/AIDS risks in African Americans. The primary objective of this grant is to identify subgroups of African American young adults who may be at a higher risk of HIV exposure, thereby enabling targeted prevention programs.