John Abrams graduated from Cornell University in 1982 and received a National Science Foundation Fellowship for graduate work at Stanford University the following year. Under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Schimke, he analyzed the regulation, amplification and mutagenesis of transfected genes, receiving a PhD. in 1989. Later that year, Dr. Abrams moved to MIT as an American Cancer Society fellow, where he joined the lab of Hermann Steller and launched molecular studies on programmed cell death. Using the Drosophila model, he uncovered the first global cell death defective mutation in this animal and later he identified the gene ’reaper’ as the relevant locus encoding the predicted apoptotic function. Small molecules that simulate the activity encoded by this gene are now attracting widespread attention as promising anti-cancer drugs. In 1994, Dr. Abrams joined the faculty at UT Southwestern, where he continues research on the molecular physiology of cell death. In related efforts, his group is exploring biological links between tumor suppressor genes commonly mutated in human cancers and mobile genetic elements. Dr. Abrams received the Research Scholar award from the American Cancer Society and the Senior Scholar award from the Ellison Medical Foundation. He is currently a Professor in the department of Cell Biology.


Cornell University (1982), Biology
Graduate School
Stanford University (1989), Molecular & Cell Biology

Research Interest

  • Chromatin Assembly, 3D Genome Organization and Gene Regulation
  • Mobile Genetic Elements, Transposons
  • Programmed Cell Death; Apoptosis
  • Tumor Suppressor genes, Tumor Protein p53


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Honors & Awards

  • Ellison Medical Foundation
    Senior Scholar (2011)
  • American Cancer Society
    Research Scholar (2001)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Postdoctoral Fellowship (1992)
  • American Cancer Society
    Postdoctoral Fellowsip (1989)
  • National Science Foundation
    Graduate Fellowship (1983)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Association for Cancer Research, Genetics Society of America
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • BioMedcentral Faculty of 1000 reviewer, F1000 Faculty member
  • Editorial Board: Apoptosis. Rapid Science Publishers.
  • Editorial Board: Cell Death & Differentiation. Nature Publishing Group