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Rachel Mary Abbotts, MBChB, PhD

Academic Title:

Research Associate

Primary Appointment:

Radiation Oncology


655 W Baltimore St, Bressler Research Building 8-020

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-5338

Education and Training

Education & training:

  • 2004 - BSc (Hons) Genetics, University of Leeds, UK
  • 2006 - MBChB Medicine & Surgery, University of Leeds, UK
  • 2014 - PhD Molecular Oncology, University of Nottingham, UK


Post-Graduate Education & Training

  • 2006-2008 - Academic Foundation Program, South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, Manchester, UK
  • 2008-2010 - Walport Academic Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  • 2010-2014 - Medical Research Council Academic Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  • 2014-2017 - Visiting Fellow, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD
  • 2017-2019 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, MD


Academic Appointment

  • 2019-current - Research Associate, University of Maryland Baltimore



Dr. Rachel Abbotts is a Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Feyruz Rassool, Professor of Radiation Oncology in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore. After completing clinical-academic residency training in adult internal medicine and medical oncology at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham (UK), Dr. Abbotts was awarded a three-year Clinical Research Training Fellowship by the Medical Research Council. She joined the laboratory of Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan at the University of Nottingham, where she conducted research on development of DNA repair inhibitors targeting the key base excision repair protein APE1, and applied these to PTEN-deficient melanomas in a synthetic lethality approach, leading to the award of her PhD in 2014. Subsequently, she joined the laboratory of Dr. David Wilson III at the National Institute on Aging, where she focused on the role of base excision DNA repair in the maintenance of mitochondrial health in skeletal muscle. This work, supported by competitive NIH intramural funding, received the NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence.  

In her current role in the Rassool laboratory, Dr. Abbotts is investigating the mechanisms underpinning the therapeutic efficacy of a novel treatment combination regimen in non-small cell lung and other cancers. Her work, recently published in PNAS, has demonstrated that epigenetic modulation by DNMT inhibitors (DNMTi) induce a defect in double strand break repair that sensitizes cancer cells to PARP inhibitors and radiation therapy. In December 2019, Dr. Abbotts was awarded an UMB Institutional Research Grant, funded by the American Cancer Society, to support ongoing studies linking this DNMTi-induced repair defect to induction of an interferon-stimulated immune response that may modulate response to immune checkpoint therapy. Dr. Abbotts has over 10 years’ experience in the field of DNA repair research, including expertise in widely varied experimental techniques. She also plays an active role in the UMB community, including as assistant course director for GPILS 665 Cancer Biology: From Basic Research to the Clinic, GPILS Career Advisory Group member, and a previous role on the UMB Postdoctoral Advisory Committee.


Research/Clinical Keywords

DNA repair, lung cancer, epigenetic therapy

Highlighted Publications

Abbotts R, Topper MJ, Biondi C, Fontaine D, Goswami R, Stojanovic L, Choi EY, McLaughlin L, Kogan AA, Xia L, Mahmood J, Lapidus RG, Baylin SB, Rassool FV. DNA methyltransferase inhibitors induce a BRCAness phenotype that sensitizes NSCLC to PARP inhibitor and ionizing radiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019; 116(45): 22609-22618

Abbotts R and Wilson DM 3rd. Coordination of DNA Single Strand Break Repair. Free Radical Biology & Medicine 2017: 107:228-244.

Abbotts R, Jewell R, Nsengimana J, Maloney DJ, Simeonov A, Seedhouse C, Elliott F, Laye J, Walker C, Jadhav A, Grabowska A, Ball G, Patel PM, Newton-Bishop J, Wilson DM 3rd, Madhusudan S. Targeting human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) in phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) deficient melanoma cells for personalized therapy. Oncotarget 2014; 5(10): 3273-86.

Abbotts R and Madhusudan S. DNA repair in cancer: emerging targets for personalized therapy. Cancer Management and Research 2014; 6: 77-92

Abbotts R and Madhusudan S. Targeting DNA base excision repair: a new strategy for cancer therapy. Clinical Medicine 2012; 12: s42-6