Dr. Abbott received a Bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Durham, United Kingdom, in 1991, specializing in neurobiology and entomology. He received a Masters in Science with Distinction in Molecular Pathology and Toxicology from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, in 1993.
He studied the structure of voltage-gated potassium channels using Fourier transform infrared and circular dichroism spectroscopy in the laboratory of Dr. Kaila Srai in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, in Hampstead, London from 1994-1996, and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of London in 1997.
From 1997-1999, Dr. Abbott was a Wellcome Trust Prize Traveling Postdoctoral Fellow, and from 1999-2001 a Postdoctoral Associate, in the laboratory of Dr. Steve Goldstein in the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, during which time he studied the molecular basis for function of voltage-gated potassium channels, and how their dysfunction causes cardiac arrhythmias and skeletal muscle disease.
Since 2001, Dr. Abbott has been a faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College, studying the role of voltage-dependent and voltage-independent ion channels in his own laboratory. In 2007, he became Director of the Pharmacology Graduate Program at Weill Cornell.
Dr. Abbott's major scientific breakthroughs include:
Discovery of the KCNE2 potassium channel gene as the molecular basis for the cardiac arrhythmia Long QT Syndrome 6 (LQT6), and regulation of HERG by KCNE2 (also called MiRP1).
Discovery that KCNE2 is essential for gastric acid secretion.
Identification of KCNQ1-KCNE2 as a thyroid K recycling channel required for normal thyroid hormone biosynthesis, the first known role for any cation channel in this process.
Identification of the role of KCNE3 (MiRP2) in skeletal muscle, and the association of a human KCNE3 mutation with periodic paralysis.
Discovery that KCNE subunits can act as endocytic chaperones for potassium channel alpha subunits.