Ernesto Abel-Santos

Professor, Biochemistry
Expertise: Bacterial Spore Germination, Bio-organic Chemistry, Bioterrorism, Enzymology


Ernesto Abel-Santos’ research combines the areas of organic chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. In his lab, Abel-Santos works with bacterial spores, including anthrax and the hospital infection, Clostridium difficile (C-diff). He also is part of a collaborative research group looking at bacteria that affects chickens and honeybees. 

Abel-Santos developed new techniques for evaluating mechanisms of Bacillus and Clostridium spore germination. He also investigates new methods to control anthrax infections, which are resistant to most antiseptic and antibiotic treatments. He has developed nucleoside inhibitors against anthrax spore germination.

He is the co-founder of Able Therapeutics LLC, a start up company that is researching, developing, and commercializing the first and only preventative medicine for treating Clostridium difficile, one of the fastest growing epidemics in the U.S. C-diff spores can be contracted anytime a patient is in a hospital, nursing home, surgery center, or other similar facility.


  • Ph.D., Bioorganic Chemistry, Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
  • B.S., Chemistry, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Ernesto Abel-Santos In The News

Science Times
About 500,000 people in the United States suffer from gastrointestinal infections from Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). Over 20,000 die from the infections.
Science Mag
Each year, about 500,000 people in the U.S. deal with gastrointestinal infections from Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), and more than 20,000 die from these infections. A new study performed in mice has identified a compound that prevented C. diff infection caused by multiple strains of the bacterium, including those that cause serious illness. Researchers are now using this compound to develop new drug candidates that might eventually offer a way to prevent serious C. diff infections in people.
Interesting Engineering
Gastrointestinal infections from Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) affect about 500,000 people in the U.S. a year, 20,000 of which die. Now, a new study performed in mice may have found a solution for the condition.
Even though you can't see them, your home is full of microscopic germs that can make your family or visitors sick. "Even the cleanest home has bacteria and viruses," says Ernesto Abel-Santos, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "In fact, most have benefits for us."

Articles Featuring Ernesto Abel-Santos

medical worker in full protective suit making "LV" sign with hands
Business and Community | December 31, 2020

As the pandemic tightened its grip on Nevada, the nation, and the world, UNLV responded in ways big and small. Members of the media also turned to UNLV's faculty experts for answers.

A hand is seen wiping a folder with a UNLV logo
Research | August 11, 2020

As summer comes to a close and classrooms open, UNLV biochemist Ernesto Abel-Santos offers cleaning best practices.

A portrait of U.N.L.V.'s new president Keith Whitfield on campus.
Campus News | August 10, 2020

As summer heats up, so do the accomplishments on UNLV’s campus.