Robert Abbott

Robert Abbott

Department: Biology
Advisor: Michail Sitkovsky

Collaborators: Sri Sridhar



Graduated from Northeastern in 2010 with:
BS in Behavioral Neuroscience
BS in Cardiopulmonary Sciences
MS in Cardiopulmonary Sciences
I originally became interested in research when I started working in Dr. Michail Sitkovksy’s lab as an undergraduate volunteer, after I heard him give a guest lecture. It was fascinating to learn how a simple molecule, adenosine, is used as a powerful negative regulator to shut off inflammation in the body. Even more interesting was the fact that cancerous tumors “trick” the immune system and shut it off using this molecule. It was not long before I became engulfed in biomedical research and realized that I wanted to pursue a PhD in Biology. After I graduated in 2010, I immediately enrolled in the Biology graduate program at Northeastern with Dr. Sitkovsky as my advisor. When I joined the lab full time, I took on a new project in a field in which little is known about adenosine signaling: development of a broadly neutralizing HIV vaccine. It has been nearly 30 years since the discovery that HIV causes AIDS, and every vaccine attempt has failed. Novel approaches to HIV vaccine development are needed. In collaboration with labs at Harvard, Duke and MIT we seek to identify the best conserved HIV antigen for vaccination, and create a robust vaccine response using nanocarrier peptide platforms and synthetic adenosine receptor antagonists to prevent natural inhibition of the immune response. My project specifically is to identify what the role of adenosine signaling is through the various stages of the immune response and develop a nanocarrier platform for synthetic adenosine A2aR agonists and antagonists for lymph node delivery. The IGERT program in nanomedicine attracted me due to the fact that it offered extensive training in the area of nanoengineering and design. Meeting and sharing ideas with other students who are engaged in other areas of research using nanoparticle platforms has been invaluable.