Faculty & Staff at TUC

Alison  McCormick

Alison McCormick

College: COP

Department: Biological & Pharmaceutical Sciences

Title: Professor

Phone: (707) 638-5987

Fax: (707) 638-5959

E-Mail: amccormi@touro.edu

Office: Administration & Faculty 2, Rm. 206

Institution Degree Field of Study Obtained
Iowa State University B.S. Psychology 1984
University of California, San Diego Ph.D. Pharmacology 1990

Fall Semester 
PHRM 602: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Participating Faculty Member) 
PHRM 610: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Participating Faculty Member) 

Spring Semester 
PHRM 606: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Participating Faculty Member) 
PHRM 614: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Participating Faculty Member) 

My research focus is to make vaccines using a plant expression system, and test and improve vaccine efficacy in mouse models of disease.  Plants are very easy to grow, and the vector we use, based on Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), is an effective driver of protein expression.  In addition, we have been exploring TMV as a carrier molecule for vaccine delivery.  TMV is a rod shaped virus, and although it is not infectious in mammalian cells, its size promotes uptake by mammalian immune cells and after uptake it stimulates innate antiviral immune responses.  We have exploited these properties to promote improve immunity to weakly immunogenic subunit vaccine antigens.  Subunit proteins have the advantage of being easy to produce compared to an inactivated whole virus or bacteria, but the disadvantage is that most subunit proteins are very weakly immunogenic, and don't stimulate protective immunity on their own.  By associating subunit vaccine protein to the surface of TMV, we have been able to promote antigen uptake and potent immunity to subunit vaccine proteins after vaccination in mice.  In one recent study, we were able to associate the influenza antigen Hemagglutinin (HA) from H1N1 virus to the surface of TMV, and show single dose protection from a mouse model of influenza virus challenge.  Our goals are to show that this is a universal characteristic of TMV-subunit vaccine fusions, by testing improved potency of subunit vaccine proteins from HIV, plague, tularemia, and tuberculosis.  We are also expanding our initial observations of HA vaccine protection to other pandemic HA subtypes like those from H5N1 or H7N9.  I have active collaborations with a number of research scientists outside of Touro to help test protective immunity in pathogen challenge studies.

            In a second project, we are using TMV as a way to deliver nucleic acids to immune cells, which has the advantage of streamlining antigen delivery so that the host cells that take up the TMV particle are making the subunit vaccine protein.  This has the advantage of speed of production, and may foster improved immune response by activating additional innate immune repsonse pathways in mammalian immune cells.  We have used TMV to deliver antigen encoding RNA, and have an ongoing program to assemble the particles in plants.   

Pending research support

Gates Grand Challenge, Phase II         McCormick, Alison A., PI   07-2014 to 6-2016

Synthetic Biology, extension of OPP1059735   $908,880direct/$999,768 total 

“Plant-produced synthetic vaccines for the prevention of tuberculosis”

The major goals of the project will be to produce  in vivo transencapsidation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen RNAs in plants, to create novel combinations of RNA and TMV-Mtb protein conjugates, and test vaccine potency in mice, including pathogen challenge. 

NIH/NIAID                   McCormick, Alison A., PI   04-2014 to 03-2019

 1R01AI110438-01       $2,661,890 direct/$3,564,292 total  

“Single dose subunit vaccines for pandemic Influenza”

 The major goals of the project will be to develop a new type of influenza vaccine using TMV-influenza subunit vaccine conjugations. Work will include HA antigen expression and scale-up in plants, conjugation optimization, and vaccine potency testing in mice, including pathogen challenge.

Touro University,                                 McCormick, Alison A., Co-PI   02-2014 to 01-2015
Seed grant                                                 $50,000 direct/$100,000 total
"Multivalent Tularemia Vaccine based on Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) Displaying Protective Antigens:

The major goals of the project will be to develop a new type of tularemia vaccine by creating 4 different TMV-subunit vaccine conjugations, and combining them as a multivalent vaccine. Work will include conjugation optimization, vaccine potency testing in mice, and stability testing.  My colleague will further test vaccine potency by pahtogen challenge.

Current research support 

NIH/NIAID       McCormick, Alison A., PI   02-2012 to 01-2014

1R03AI099584-01                      $100,000 direct/$144,700 total  

“Adaptation of a Novel RNA virus for vaccine use”

The major goals of the project will be to develop an RNA antigen delivery vector using Flock House Virus RNA encapsidated by TMV coat protein, and test antigen expression in vitro.

DTC              McCormick, Alison A. (PI)  05-2013 to 1-2014

Company Sponsored Research                         $23,000 total

“Phase II: Antigen fusions to improve immunogenicity”

The major goal of the project is to assess  conjugation reproducibility of TMV-influenza HA antigen-virus fusions, and determine cross-clade reactivity of sera from immunized mice.  

Completed research support

Gates Grand Challenge              McCormick, Alison A., PI   05-2012 to 10-2013

Synthetic Biology, OPP1059735              $100,000 direct/$110,000 total 

“Plant-produced synthetic RNA vaccines”

The major goals of the project will be to develop an in vivo transencapsidation system in plants, to create novel combinations of RNA and TMV coat protein for vaccine optimization in vivo


Matrix BioResearch                    McCormick, Alison A. (PI)  12-2011 to 03-2013

Company Sponsored Research         $35,000 total

“Antigen fusions to improve infectious disease antigen immunogenicity”

The major goal of the project is to develop improved vaccine immunogenicity by creating a TMV-influenza HA (H1N1) antigen-virus fusion.  


Touro University                McCormick, Alison A. (PI)   07-2011 to 06-2012

Institutional Sponsored Research                    $45,000 total  

“Greenhouse development project”

The major goal of the project is to develop greenhouse space to grow tobacco cultivars for vaccine production.  

Zhou, Y., Mallajosyula, J.K., Maharaj, P.D., McCormick, A.A. and Kearney, C. Synthetic vaccine nanoparticles made in planta: encapsidation of Flock house virus by a non-native coat protein. Journal of Virology (in preparation, J. Virology, 2013).

Maharaj, P.D., Mallajosyula, J.K., Zhou, Y., Thi, P., Lee, G., Kearney, C., and McCormick A.A. Trans-encapsidation and transgene expression of Flock house virus in mammalian cells. Journal of Virol. Methods (Submitted, 11- 2013).

Kemnade, J.O.,  Spencer, D.M. and McCormick, A.A.  Tobacco Mosaic Virus Efficiently Delivers Conjugated Peptide-antigens to DCs In Vivo Inducing DC Activation and Antigen-specific T Cell Responses. Vaccine (Submitted, 11-2013).

Mallajosyula, JL.,  Hiatt, E.,  Hume, S.,  Johnson, A.,  Jeevan, T.,  Chikwamba, R., Pogue, G.P.,  Bratcher, B.,  Haydon, H.,  Webby, R.J. and McCormick, A.A. Single-dose monomeric HA subunit vaccine generates full protection from influenza challenge.  Accepted, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapy, 2013.

Barton, C., Kouokam, J., Lasnik, A., Foreman, O., Montefiore, D.C., Vojdani, F., McCormick, A.A., O’Keefe, B.R. and Palmer, K.E. The potent antiviral lectin Griffithsin is persistent, active, and well tolerated after subcutaneous administration in laboratory rodents. In Press 10-18-13, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2013.

Kemnade, J.O., Sethammagari, M.,  Narayanan, P.R., McCormick, A.A., Levitt, J.M., and Spencer, D.M. (2012) Off-the-shelf dendritic cell immunotherapy via bicistronic expression of an inducible adjuvant switch and tumor antigen. (Mol Ther. 7;1462-71). PMID:22434138

McCormick, A.A.  (2011) Tobacco Derived Cancer Vaccines for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Perspectives and Progress. (Hum Vaccin. 7;1-8).PMID: 21346416

Bendandi M, Marillonnet S, Kandzia R, Thieme F, Nickstadt A, Herz S, Fröde R, Inogés S, Lòpez-Dìaz de Cerio A, Soria E, Villanueva H, Vancanneyt G, McCormick A, Tusé D, Lenz J, Butler-Ransohoff JE, Klimyuk V, Gleba Y.   (2010) Rapid, high-yield production in plants of individualized idiotype vaccines for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. (Ann. Oncol. 12; 2420-7) PMID: 20494963

McCormick, A.A., Reddy, S., Reinl, S.J. , Cameron, T.I. Czerwinski, D., Garger, S.J., White, E., Novak, J., Barrett, J., Holtz, B., Tusé, D. and Levy, R.  (2008) Plant-derived single-chain Fv idiotype vaccines for the treatment of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: safety and immunogenicity results from a Phase I clinical study. (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA.105; 10131-36). PMID: 18645180

McCormick A.A. and Palmer, K.E.  (2008) Genetically engineered Tobacco mosaic virus as nanoparticle vaccines  Chemical conjugate TMV-peptide bivalent fusion vaccines improve cellular immunity and tumor protection (Expert Review of Vaccines, 7; 33-41). PMID: 18251692

Smith, M.L., Corbo, T., Bernales, J.B., Lindbo, J.A., Pogue, G.P., Palmer, K.E. and McCormick A.A.  (2007) Assembly of trans-encapsidated recombinant viral vectors engineered from Tobacco mosaic virus and Semliki-forest virus and their evaluation as immunogens (Virology, 358; 321-333). PMID: 17014881

McCormick A.A. Corbo, T., Wykoff-Clary, S., Palmer, K.E. and Pogue, G. P.  (2006) Chemical conjugate TMV-peptide bivalent fusion vaccines improve cellular immunity and tumor protection (Bioconjugate Chemistry, 17; 1330-38). PMID: 16984144

McCormick A.A. Corbo, T., Wykoff-Clary, S., Nguyen, L.V., Smith, M.L., Palmer, K.E. and Pogue, G. P. (2006) TMV-peptide fusion vaccines induce cell-mediated immune responses and tumor protection in two murine models (Vaccine, 24; 6414-23). PMID: 16860441

Palmer, K.E., Benko, A., Doucette, S., McCormick, A.A and Christensen N.  (2006) Protection of rabbits against cutaneous and mucosal papillomavirus infection using recombinant tobacco mosaic virus containing L2 capsid epitopes (Vaccine, 24; 5516-25). PMID: 16725236

Smith, M.L., Lindbo, J.A., Dillard-Telm, S.; Brosio, P.M.,  Lasnik, A.B., McCormick, A.A.,  Nguyen, L.V. and Palmer K.E.  (2006) Modified Tobacco mosaic virus Particles as Scaffolds for Display of Protein Antigens for Vaccine Applications (Virology, 348; 475-488). PMID: 16466765

McCormick, A.A., Reinl, S., Cameron, T., Levy, R. and Tusé, D.  (2003) Individualized Human scFv Vaccines Produced in Plants for the Treatment of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Anti-idiotype Responses in Vaccinated Mice Confirm Relevance to the Tumor Ig (J. Immunol. Methods, 278, 95-104). PMID: 12957399


American Association for Cancer Research, 2000 
American Association of Immunologists, 2003 
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, 2006 
American Chemical Society, 2007 


1994-1995 Howard Hughes Research Fellow, Stanford University 
1993-1994 Katharine McCormick Award for Women in Science, Stanford University 
1990-1993 Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University 
1979-1980 Booth Academic Scholarship, Iowa State University 
1978-1979 National Merit Semi-finalist 

Employer Title From - To
Iowa State University Research Associate 1982-1984
University of California, San Diego Teaching Assistant, SOM 1985-1990
Stanford University Postdoctoral Fellow 1990-1994
Stanford University Howard Hughes Fellow 1994-1995
Tularik, Inc Scientist Scientist
Large Scale Biology Corporation Senior Scientist 1996-2001
Stanford University, SOM Visiting Scientist 1996-2001
Large Scale Biology Corporation Principal Scientist, Preclinical dev. 2001-2005
Touro University – California / College of Pharmacy Professor 2006-now
Last Updated: 11/29/21