Allison C. Rice-Ficht

Allison C. Rice-Ficht

Associate Vice President for Health Science Center Research

Director of the Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery

Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
312 Jack K. Williams Building /Room 425 Reynolds Medical Building
College Station, TX   77843

Phone: 979.845.2728
Fax: 979.436.0060

Education and Training

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

Texas A&M 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

Dr. Allison C. 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 University 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 Rice-Ficht lab are currently focused on the use of unique biomaterials for controlled release of live and subunit vaccines. Our focus is currently directed to the production of vaccines against human Brucellosisand 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. Another focus is the study of alpha crystalline structure and function. These unique proteins protect against thermal insult and modulate folding and activity of other proteins


  • Patterson JL, Arenas-Gamboa AM, Wang TY, Hsiao HC, Howell DW, Pellois JP, Rice-Ficht A, Bondos SE, (2014) Materials composed of the Drosophila Hox protein Ultrabithorax are biocompatible and nonimmunogenic. J Biomed Mater Res A. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.35295. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25087647.
  • Gomez G, Adams LG, Rice-Ficht A, Ficht TA. (2013) Host-Brucella interactions and the Brucella genome as tools for subunit antigen discovery and immunization against brucellosis. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 3:17. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2013.00017. eCollection 2013. Review. PMID: 23720712.
  • Gomez G, Pei J, Mwangi W, Adams LG, Rice-Ficht A, Ficht TA. (2013) Immunogenic and invasive properties of Brucella melitensis 16M outer membrane protein vaccine candidates identified via a reverse vaccinology approach. PLoS One. 8(3):e59751. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059751. Epub 2013 Mar 22. PMID: 23533646.
  • Jang SF, Goins BA, Phillips WT, Santoyo C, Rice-Ficht A, McConville JT. (2013) Size discrimination in rat and mouse gastric emptying. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 34(2):107-24. doi: 10.1002/bdd.1828. Epub 2013 Jan 24. PMID: 23143681.
  • Pei J, Ding X, Fan Y, Rice-Ficht A, Ficht TA. (2012) Toll-like receptors are critical for clearance of Brucella and play different roles in development of adaptive immunity following aerosol challenge in mice. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2:115. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00115. eCollection 2012. PMID: 22973560.
  • Rice-Ficht AC, Arenas-Gamboa AM, Kahl-McDonagh MM, Ficht TA. (2010) Polymeric particles in vaccine delivery. Curr Opin Microbiol. 13(1):106-12. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2009.12.001. Epub 2010 Jan 14. Review. PMID: 20079678.
  • Jupiter D, Ficht T, Qin QM, Rice-Ficht A, Samuel J, de Figueiredo P. (2010) Genomic polymorphisms as inherent watermarks for tracking infectious agents. Front Microbiol. 1:109. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2010.00109. eCollection 2010. No abstract available. PMID: 21607081.
  • Arenas-Gamboa AM, Ficht TA, Davis DS, Elzer PH, Kahl-McDonagh M, Wong-Gonzalez A, Rice-Ficht AC. (2009) Oral vaccination with microencapsuled strain 19 vaccine confers enhanced protection against Brucella abortus strain 2308 challenge in red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus). J Wildl Dis. 45(4):1021-9. PMID: 19901378.
  • Ficht TA, Kahl-McDonagh MM, Arenas-Gamboa AM, Rice-Ficht AC. (2009) Brucellosis: the case for live, attenuated vaccines. Vaccine. 27 Suppl 4:D40-3. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.08.058. Review. PMID: 19837284.
  • 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. PMID: 19204345.
  • 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 m ice when delivered in a sustained-release vehicle. Infect. Immun. 77(2): 877-884. PMID: 19047401.
  • 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. PMID: 18362129.
  • 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. PMID: 17450800.
  • 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. PMID: 17375923.