Dr Adele McCormick

Dr Adele McCormick

Having gained my BSc (hons) in Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of Sheffield in 1993, I moved to the University of Sheffield Medical School, whereby I undertook a MSc in Clinical Pathology and my doctorate in philosophy (PhD). My doctorate research studies involved constructing chimaeric fusion proteins to enhance the immunogenicity of recombinant gp120 of HIV-1 for vaccination. I then completed a two year postdoctoral position at the same University that expanded on my PhD scientific findings.

Since 2002, I have undertaken several postdoctoral positions at University College London, whereby I have gained research experience in a wide variety of disciplines 1) Construction of AAV and Lentiviral based vectors encoding huFIX to be used in gene therapy for the treatment of Haemophilia B. 2) Quantification of reverse transcriptase activity using F-PERT in serum and CSF of patients with sporadic ALS. 3) Performing genotypic and phenotypic resistance testing to determine the impact of viral variants in HIV-1 gag-pol genomic regions on drug resistance and viral fitness to inform Clinicians on treatment management of HIV-1 infected patients. I was part of the DART trial in Africa, and instrumental in performing HIV-1 genotypic resistance testing to study the emergence and evolution of drug resistance in patients failing on antiretroviral therapy and published findings in a number of peer-review Journals.

In 2010, I moved to the Department of Virology,  Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, where I was employed as a HIV-1 Healthcare Scientist

I joined the University of Westminster in January 2015, as a Lecturer in Molecular Biology and progressed to Senior Lecturer in August 2017. Since September 2022, I am Research Group Leader for Genomics and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the Centre for Optimal Health, and set up a Genomics suite for processing BSL-2 microorganisms for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).  As research group leader for Genomics and Infectious Diseases, I mentor early career and mid career researchers as well as postdoctoral and PhD students.

I am International co-Director for the School of Life Sciences, and organised a Symposium on Research on Neurological conditions at the University of Westminster as well as a Field trip to EMBL, Heidelberg, in April 2023, funded by the Quintin Hogg Trust (QHT). 

My research interests focus on HCV and HIV antiviral drug resistance, and the involvement of Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) in sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (sALS). I am also currently screening novel compounds for antiviral effects against SARS-CoV-2 and Variants of concern utilising lentiviral pseudotype viruses using 2D and 3D human lung-on-chip culture systems.

 My HCV research is concerned with determining the prevalence of novel and resistant associated minority variants in drug targeted HCV genomic regions (NS3, NS5A and NS5B) in various patient cohorts by population sequencing and Next Generation Sequencing analysis(NGS).  In addition, utilisation of NGS to determine HCV genotype, mixed infections, recombinant events and new circulating forms, ultimately to improve patient treatment response to FDA approved direct acting antiviral agents (DAAs).

 My HIV research focuses on the characterisation of both novel and minority viral variants in HIV-1 gag and pol genomic regions, both in terms of their impact on drug susceptibility and viral fitness, utilising an in vitro pseudotyped viral vector phenotypic resistance assay, and successful in receiving funding from the Association of Clinical Biochemistry (ACB) to undertake this research work.

From my previous research findings, I was able to measure elevated levels of reverse transcriptase activity in serum samples obtained from patients with ALS compared to matched controls.  Having obtained an initiated grant ward from the ALSA for $327,000 in August 2017, my current research extends from this preliminary research work and is involved in Investigating the role of Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) in sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in both blood and brain biopsy material obtained at post-mortem by real-time qPCR, NGS and microarray technology.

I was made Fellow of the Royal Society (FRSB) in June 2023. 

I am review editor for Frontiers in Virology and a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy.

I am a member of: The Society for Microbiology, Motor Neuron Disease Association, The European Society for Virology.

Research funding obtained:

2020: Human lung-on-a-chip as a tool for screening antiviral properties of approved drugs for the treatment of COVID-19: a model system suited to future viral pandemics. Funded by Health Innovation and Wellbeing Community and awarded £17,240.

2020: Enhanced Consumable fund (SLS). £4184 for development and validation of a portable MinIon long-range RNA sequencing platform to study the transcriptome and measure differential gene expression of endogenous retroviruses that have been implicated in certain cancers and neurological conditions to identify potential biomarkers of disease.

2019: Quantification of Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) an MicroRNAs (miRs) expression levels in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma frozen tissue as a potential biomarker of the disease.  Funded by the Health Innovation and Wellbeing Community and awarded £12,667.

2017: “HERV-K Molecular Studies in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis” funded by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) and awarded $325,000.

2015: “Evaluation and validation of a novel in vitro assay to determine drug susceptibility and viral fitness of minority HIV-1 variants in integrase” funded by Association of Clinical Biochemistry (ACB) and Laboratory Medicine and awarded £4,000 as part of Scientific Development Scholarship.


  • Research Centre for Optimal Health
  • Genomics and Infectious Diseases

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Skills / expertise

RT-qPCR, Molecular Virology, Molecular Biology, HIV genotypic and phenotypic resistance testing, 2D and 3D primary cell culture and lentiviral pseudotype virus production