Allison C. Rice-Ficht

Allison C. Rice-Ficht

Regents Professor

Associate Vice President for Health Science Center Research

Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
147 Reynolds Medical Building
College Station, Texas   77843

Phone: 979.436.0592
Fax: 979.436.0060

Education and Training

Vanderbilt University,
PhD, transcriptional regulation in bacteriophage T5, 1980

Texas A&M University College of Medicine in the Department of Molecular & Cellular Medicine,
studying gene expression in parasites, 1984

Interim Dean of Research & Graduate Studies of the College of Medicine, 1999

Interim Assistant Dean of Research & Graduate Studies for the College of Medicine, 1999 to 2003

Director, Center for Microencapulation & Drug Delivery and was recently awarded a Regents Professorship

Teaching Interests

  • Molecular parasitology
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics and molecular pathogenesis

Allison Rice-Ficht, Ph.D., vice dean for the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Regent’s Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, director of Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery, and associate vice president for research at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center. Rice-Ficht received her Bachelor of Science from Auburn University and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University in 1980 investigating mechanisms of viral infection. In post-doctoral work at the University of Iowa she developed a keen interest in tropical diseases and uncovered the molecular basis of infection by the African sleeping sickness parasite, Trypanosoma brucei.

Since 1984, Rice-Ficht has been a member of the faculty of the Texas A&M Health Science Center continuing her interest in tropical disease and vaccine development. These studies unexpectedly revealed a natural capsule produced by parasitic worms that could be used for timed-release of vaccines and drugs. Rice-Ficht has engineered this capsule or particle with the ultimate goal of creating a needle-free “pocket vaccine” delivery system for the delivery of virtually any vaccine.

The Rice-Ficht laboratory currently uses micro and nanoparticles for timed release of vaccines, producing a continual boosting effect and enhanced vaccination. This technology has been applied to the production of vaccines for brucellosis, tuberculosis and Q fever through funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Gates Foundation.

Since 2002, Rice-Ficht has served as the director for the Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery, a group of life scientists and engineers pioneering sustained and targeted delivery of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. She also serves as associate vice president for research of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Research Interests

Studies in the Ficht lab are currently focused on: 1) Use of unique biomaterials for controlled release of live and subunit vaccines. Our focus is currently directed to the production of vaccines against human Brucellosis and Q fever, but will be applied to the storage and delivery of other vaccines. A study of specific immune mechanisms and potentiation through controlled releases is underway; 2] A study of alpha crystalline structure and function. These unique proteins protect against thermal insult and modulate folding and activity of other proteins

Selected Publications

  • Arenas-Gamboa, A.M., Ficht T.A., Davis, D.S., Elzer, P.H., Wong-Gonzalez, A., and Rice-Ficht, A.C. (2009) Enhanced immune response of red deer (Cervus elaphus) to live rb51 vaccine strain using composite microspheres. J. Wildl. Dis. 45(1): 165-173.
  • Arenas-Gamboa, A.M., Ficht, T.A., Kahl-McDonagh, M.M., Gomez, G., and Rice-Ficht, A.C. (2009) The Brucella abortus S19 DeltavjbR live vaccine candidate is safer than S19 and confers protection against wild-type challenge in BALB/c mice when delivered in a sustained-release vehicle. Infect. Immun. 77(2): 877-884.
  • Arenas-Gamboa, A.M., Ficht, T.A., Kahl-McDonagh, M.M., Rice-Ficht, A.C. (2008) Immunization with a single dose of a microencapsulated Brucella melitensis mutant enhances protection against wild-type challenge. Infect. Immun. 76(6): 2448-2455.
  • Sarkar, S., Sharma, C., Yog, R., Periakaruppan, A., Jejelowo, O., Thomas, R., Barrera, E.V., Rice-Ficht, A.C., Wilson, B.L., and Ramesh, G.T. (2007) Analysis of stress responsive genes induced by single-walled carbon nanotubes in BJ Foreskin cells. J. Nanosci. Nanotechnol.;7(2): 584-592.
  • Kang, X.F., Cheley, S., Rice-Ficht, A.C., and Bayley, H. (2007) A storable encapsulated bilayer chip containing a single protein nanopore. J. Am. Chem. Soc.; 129(15): 4701-4705.
  • Berchane, N., Carson, K.H., Rice-Ficht, A.C., and Andrews, M.J. (2007) Effect of mean diameter and polydispersity of PLG microspheres on drug release experiment and theory. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 337, 118-126.