Jonathan Abraham, MD, PhD

2016 DICP Faculty Fellowship Recipient

Jonathan Abraham, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School

Mentor: Stephen Harrison, PhD, Giovanni Armenise - Harvard Professor of Basic Biomedical Science, Harvard Medical School; Department of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School

Division Chief: Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Project Title“Optimized Human Monoclonal Antibody Cocktails for the Treatment of Filovirus Disease”

Project Description:

During the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak the World Health Organization identified the use of Ebola survivor blood products as a priority therapy. In one such approach, called ‘passive immunity’, survivor serum is transfused into infected individuals. This is expected to work in part because the serum often contains virus-inactivating antibodies. The project is an effort to use the blood of survivors of filovirus infection (Ebola and Marburg viruses) to develop novel, antibody-based therapies against these infections. We have adapted a protocol that allows us to isolate pathogen-specific antibodies from the blood of survivors. From these cells, we will recover genes encoding antibodies that react against the filovirus surface glycoprotein. These sequences will allow us to produce large quantities of recombinant antibodies to study the antibodies’ antiviral function using cell-based assays, and their structures using methods in structural biology. Questions we aim to answer include: on the virus side, what features of the viral glycoprotein should therapeutic antibodies target? On the antibody side, other than its direct ability to interact with the virus, are there important properties that help it best fight infection? We anticipate that the basic findings from our research will inform the design of specifically tailored monoclonal antibody cocktails to treat these highly lethal infections.


Jonathan Abraham, MD, PhD is an Instructor in Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and a Clinical and Research Fellow in Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a physician-scientist and his current work focuses on developing antibody-based therapeutics to treat emerging viral infections. Dr. Abraham graduated from Harvard College with a concentration in biochemical sciences, and from the MD-PhD program at Harvard Medical School, through which he obtained his PhD in Biophysics. He completed residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  He is a recipient of the Harvard Medical School Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Award, and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Hearst Foundation Young Investigator in Medicine Award. His research uses methods in human immunology and structural biology to study how the human immune system fights off infections by viruses that cause highly lethal diseases.