Tracy J. Ruckwardt, Ph.D.

Respiratory Viruses Core

NIH Main Campus, Bethesda, MD

Tracy J. Ruckwardt, Ph.D.

Chief, Respiratory Viruses Core

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Portrait of Tracy J. Ruckwardt, Ph.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • Viral immunity and host/pathogen interactions
  • Vaccine development for resurging and emerging
  • infectious diseases, particularly respiratory RNA viruses
  • Adaptive immune responses following vaccination or infection

Program Description

The Respiratory Viruses Core (RVC) within the Molecular Immunoengineering Section (MIS) at the Vaccine Research Center is focused on the development and testing of countermeasures for respiratory diseases caused by RNA viruses. Activities in the RVC range from antigen design and preclinical immunogenicity testing to exploratory studies using samples from human clinical trials. We have a long-standing interest in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause serious illness, particularly for infants and older adults, and have evaluated immune responses to the prefusion F subunit vaccine, DS-Cav1, in a phase I clinical trial. Clinical samples were assessed for neutralizing activity against RSV, and B cell and T cell responses to vaccination were also determined. We continue to explore adaptive immunity to RSV infection and vaccination in ongoing research projects.

Our work also includes a variety of resurging and emerging viral pathogens, including paramyxoviruses, Zika, SARS-CoV-2, and enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). This often involves assay and model development for proof-of-concept immunogenicity and protection studies. We perform a variety of serological assays and use tools such as multiparameter flow cytometry to evaluate cellular responses and for monoclonal antibody discovery. RVC efforts are closely integrated with that of the MIS, and often support VRC-wide vaccine development efforts.



Ph.D., 2003, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Dr. Tracy Ruckwardt obtained her Ph.D. in 2003, then joined the laboratory of Dr. Barney Graham at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) as a postdoctoral researcher. She is currently a Staff Scientist and Chief of the Respiratory Viruses Core at the VRC, where her research focuses on respiratory viruses and emerging infectious diseases. Her interests are vaccine development, induction of adaptive immune responses following infection or vaccination, developmental immunity, and host/pathogen interactions.

Selected Publications

Phung E, Chang LA, Mukhamedova M, Yang L, Nair D, Rush SA, Morabito KM, McLellan JS, Buchholz UJ, Mascola JR, Crank MC, Chen G, Graham BS, Ruckwardt TJ. Elicitation of pneumovirus-specific B cell responses by a prefusion-stabilized respiratory syncytial virus F subunit vaccine. Sci Transl Med. 2022 Jun 22;14(650):eabo5032.

Ruckwardt TJ, Morabito KM, Phung E, Crank MC, Costner PJ, Holman LA, Chang LA, Hickman SP, Berkowitz NM, Gordon IJ, Yamshchikov GV, Gaudinski MR, Lin B, Bailer R, Chen M, Ortega-Villa AM, Nguyen T, Kumar A, Schwartz RM, Kueltzo LA, Stein JA, Carlton K, Gall JG, Nason MC, Mascola JR, Chen G, Graham BS; VRC 317 study team. Safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the respiratory syncytial virus prefusion F subunit vaccine DS-Cav1: a phase 1, randomised, open-label, dose-escalation clinical trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2021 Oct;9(10):1111-1120.

DiPiazza AT, Leist SR, Abiona OM, Moliva JI, Werner A, Minai M, Nagata BM, Bock KW, Phung E, Schäfer A, Dinnon KH 3rd, Chang LA, Loomis RJ, Boyoglu-Barnum S, Alvarado GS, Sullivan NJ, Edwards DK, Morabito KM, Mascola JR, Carfi A, Corbett KS, Moore IN, Baric RS, Graham BS, Ruckwardt TJ. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 elicits a protective immune profile in mice that is not associated with vaccine-enhanced disease upon SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Immunity. 2021 Aug 10;54(8):1869-1882.e6.

DiPiazza AT, Graham BS, Ruckwardt TJ. T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection and vaccination. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Jan 29;538:211-217.

Ruckwardt TJ, Morabito KM, Graham BS. Immunological Lessons from Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine Development. Immunity. 2019 Sep 17;51(3):429-442.

Crank MC, Ruckwardt TJ, Chen M, Morabito KM, Phung E, Costner PJ, Holman LA, Hickman SP, Berkowitz NM, Gordon IJ, Yamshchikov GV, Gaudinski MR, Kumar A, Chang LA, Moin SM, Hill JP, DiPiazza AT, Schwartz RM, Kueltzo L, Cooper JW, Chen P, Stein JA, Carlton K, Gall JG, Nason MC, Kwong PD, Chen GL, Mascola JR, McLellan JS, Ledgerwood JE, Graham BS; VRC 317 Study Team. A proof of concept for structure-based vaccine design targeting RSV in humans. Science. 2019 Aug 2;365(6452):505-509.

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