Abelson graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. degree in chemistry. She became one of the first women to graduate from Johns Hopkins University with a medical degree. After medical school she became a pediatrician. She was the first pediatrician to ever be placed in charge of Johns Hopkins nurseries.
Her research at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a professor of clinical pathology, involved blood groups, blood diseases of infants, and the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. She published a book,Topics in Blood Banking, in 1974. She received the Emily Cooley Memorial Award from the American Association of Blood Banks.
In 1989, she received the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award for her contributions to developing the test for the Rh blood factor.
She and her husband are responsible for contributing the largest fellowship endowment in Washington State University's College of Sciences.
Abelson married Philip Abelson (1913–2004), a physicist, science writer and longtime editor of Science magazine. Their daughter, Ellen Abelson Cherniavsky who is now retired, worked as an aviation researcher at The MITRE Corporation in Virginia.
- Washington State University Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award to Neva Martin Abelson (No. 23)
- University of Pennsylvania Obituaries for Faculty & Staff
- "Science Hall renamed for Philip, Neva Abelson". WSU NEWS. August 23, 2002. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- Congress, United States (1963). Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the Congress. U.S. Government Printing Office.
- Washington, Carnegie Institution of (1999). Year Book. Carnegie Institution of Washington.
- Omoto, Charlotte; Lurquin, Paul (2015-03-05). Genetics & Society. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781483427126.
- The Cerebral Palsy Journal. Institute of Logopedics. 1953.
- Frigoletto, Fredric David; Jewett, John Figgis; Konugres, Angelyn Adele (1982). Rh hemolytic disease: new strategy for eradication. G.K. Hall Medical Publishers. ISBN 9780816122486.
- Transactions & Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia: (4th Series, 1938-). The College. 1947.
- The Preservation of the Formed Elements and of the Proteins of the Blood. 1949.
- American Journal of Diseases of Children. American Medical Association. 1950.
- "WSU Alumna and Supporter Neva Abelson Dies | WSU Insider | Washington State University". WSU Insider. 2000-10-02. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- Pepling, Rachel (August 9, 2004). "Philip Abelson Dies At 91". Chemical & Engineering News. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
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