Abelson graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. degree in chemistry. After medical school she became a pediatrician. 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.
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
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