John F. Alcorn, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Associate Professor, Department of Immunology
  • Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)

Education & Training

  • PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, Duke University, 2003
  • MS in Physiology, Youngstown State University, 1998
  • BS in Biology, Youngstown State University, 1996

Research Interest Summary

Pneumonia, Influenza, Vaccine, Bacteria, Lung

Research Interests

The Alcorn laboratory is focused on pulmonary immunity, host defense, epithelial cell biology, and lung physiology as it relates to pediatric disease. A primary laboratory focus is on influenza infection and host defense mechanisms in the lung. Influenza presents a global health challenge for which there are limited therapeutics options. The laboratory is interested in understanding key factors involved in influenza pathogenesis and host mediated immunopathology. Recent studies in the lab are focused on how preceding influenza infection suppresses the ability of the lung to respond to secondary bacterial infections. We have shown that influenza inhibits Type 17 immune activation upon secondary challenge with MRSA resulting in attenuated clearance. These data identified a novel immune mechanism involved in increased susceptibility following viral infection. Over the last 10 years, the laboratory has extended its focus to fully elucidate immune dysfunction during influenza and influenza, bacterial super-infection. The Alcorn laboratory is also working on human immune responses to influenza vaccination and infection. These studies conducted in partnership with the CDC are focused on cell mediated immunity. The current laboratory focus combines mouse models of human lung disease with translational studies utilizing the significant access to samples here at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The group’s goal is to model human disease, as best as possible, and elucidate novel mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in order to inform therapeutic design. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alcorn Laboratory has conducted studies regarding antibody and cell mediated immunity in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.


Zhai B, Clarke K, Bauer DL, Moehling Geffel KK, Kupul S, Schratz LJ, Nowalk MP, McElroy AK, McLachlan JB, Zimmerman RK, Alcorn JF. SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Response is Associated with Age and Body Mass Index in Convalescent Outpatients. medRxiv. 2021 Nov 8:2021.11.08.21265888. doi: 10.1101/2021.11.08.21265888. Preprint. PMC8597889 J Immunol, In Press 2022.

Moehling KK, Zhai B, Schwarzmann WE, Chandran UR, Ortiz M, Nowalk MP, Nace D, Lin CJ, Susick M, Levine M, Alcorn JF, and RK Zimmerman. The impact of physical frailty on the response to inactivated influenza vaccine in older adults. Aging 12(24):24633-24650, 2020. PMC7803506

Robinson KM, Ramanan K, Clay ME, McHugh KJ, Pilewski MJ, Nickolich KL, Corey C, Shiva S, Wang J and JF Alcorn. 2018. The inflammasome potentiates influenza/Staphylococcus aureus superinfection in mice. JCI Insight. 3: pii: 97470.

Abood RN, McHugh KJ, Rich HE, Ortiz MA, Tobin JM, Ramanan K, Robinson KM, Bomberger JM, Kolls JK, Manni ML, Pociask DA and Alcorn JF. 2019. IL-22-binding protein exacerbates influenza, bacterial super-infection. Mucosal Immunol. 12: 1231-1243.

Robinson KM, Ramanan K, Tobin JM, Nickolich KL, Pilewski MJ, Kallewaard NL, Sellman BR, Cohen TS and Alcorn JF. 2019. Survival during influenza-associated bacterial superinfection improves following viral- and bacterial-specific monoclonal antibody treatment. JCI Insight. 4: pii: 125554.

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