Soman Ninan Abraham
Soman Ninan Abraham

Soman Ninan Abraham

Grace Kerby Distinguished Professor of Pathology


The Abraham laboratory is interested in developing innovative approaches for curbing microbial infections through the study of the molecular interactions occurring between pathogenic bacteria and prominent immune and epithelial cells. We believe that there is a significant amount of crosstalk occurring between bacteria and host cells during infection and that the outcome of this interaction dictates both how quickly the infection is cleared and the severity of the pathology associated with the infection. We also believe that through deciphering this crosstalk we should be able to selectively promote certain beneficial interactions while abrogating the harmful ones.

There are two major research areas being pursued in this laboratory. The first involves elucidating the role of mast cells in modulating immune responses to microbes.  Our studies have revealed that mast cells play a key sentinel role and upon bacterial or viral infection, modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses through the release of immunomodulatory molecules borne in granules. Our current investigations are centered on elucidating the molecular and cellular aspects of how mast cells mediate their immunomodulatory role. We are also examining several mast cell-targeted strategies to boost immunity to infections as well as reduce any pathological consequences of infection.

The second area of research investigates cross-talk between distinct infectious agents such as Uropathogenic E. coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Yersinia pestis and the immune system. We have recognized that different pathogens possess distinct mechanisms to evade or coopt one or more immune cells to establish infection. We have also unraveled novel intracellular innate host defense activities including expulsion of whole bacteria from infected epithelial cells, a feat mediated by immune recognition molecules and the cellular trafficking system.

Cumulatively, our studies should facilitate the design of innovative strategies to combat pathogens that selectively potentiate the host’s immune response without evoking some of its harmful side effects.


Grace Kerby Distinguished Professor of Pathology in the School of Medicine

2018 School of Medicine

Professor in Pathology in the School of Medicine

2003 School of Medicine

Professor of Cell Biology in the School of Medicine

2022 School of Medicine

Professor in Integrative Immunobiology in the School of Medicine

2015 School of Medicine

Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the School of Medicine

2015 School of Medicine

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute in the School of Medicine

1997 School of Medicine


B.S. 1976

1976 Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria)

M.S. 1978

1978 Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria)

Ph.D. 1981

1981 Newcastle University (United Kingdom)

Postdoctoral Fellowship

1986 University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Publications, Grants & Awards

Offices & Contact

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