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Bruce Alan Sullenger, PhD

Joseph W. and Dorothy W. Beard Distinguished Professor of Experimental Surgery
Professor in Surgery
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Professor of Neurosurgery
Office: 120 Serrano Way, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Campus Mail: DUMC Box 103035, Durham, NC 27710

The main focus of my translational research laboratory is to develop RNA based therapeutic agents for the potential treatment of a range of diseases. To this end, we have and will continue to take advantage of the fact that RNA is not just a passive carrier of genetic instructions inside of cells during the conversion of information from DNA to RNA to protein. Rather, RNA is an extremely versatile biological macromolecule. Certian RNAs can bind to specific protiens with high affinities, while others can for catalytic centers and perform enzymatic reactions. These facets of RNA coupled with the ease with which RNA can be manipulated in vitro make it a very powerful and unique therapeutic agent whose potential is largely untapped. Durring our endeavors, we plan to work closely with the members of the Molecular Therapeutics program as well as other faculty at the Duke University Medical Center to expedite the development and testing of these therapeutics.

The specific aims of my laboratory are:

1. To isolate and characterize RNA and DNA aptamers which block therapeutically relavent proteins such as those involved in cardiovascular diseases and immune modulation.

2. To develop RNA-based tumor targeting strategies for delivering siRNAs and miRNAs to tumor cells.

3. To reprogram cells using mRNA delivery.

4. To explore novel methods to control inflammation.

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., Cornell University, 1990

Selected Grants


Corey, Kristin M., Lyra B. Olson, Ibtehaj A. Naqvi, Sarah A. Morrison, Connor Davis, Shahid M. Nimjee, Loretta G. Que, et al. “Suppression of Fibrinolysis and Hypercoagulability, Severity of Hypoxemia, and Mortality in COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective Cohort Study.” Anesthesiology 137, no. 1 (July 1, 2022): 67–78.

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Chabata, Charlene V., James W. Frederiksen, Lyra B. Olson, Ibtehaj A. Naqvi, Sharon E. Hall, Ruwan Gunaratne, Bryan D. Kraft, Loretta G. Que, Lingye Chen, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Combining Heparin and a FX/Xa Aptamer to Reduce Thrombin Generation in Cardiopulmonary Bypass and COVID-19.” Nucleic Acid Ther 32, no. 3 (June 2022): 139–50.

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Naqvi, Ibtehaj, Nicholas Giroux, Lyra Olson, Sarah Ahn Morrison, Telmo Llanga, Tolu O. Akinade, Yuefei Zhu, et al. “DAMPs/PAMPs induce monocytic TLR activation and tolerance in COVID-19 patients; nucleic acid binding scavengers can counteract such TLR agonists.” Biomaterials 283 (April 2022): 121393.

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Reed, Christopher R., Desiree Bonadonna, James C. Otto, Charles Griffin McDaniel, Charlene Vongai Chabata, Maragatha Kuchibhatla, James Frederiksen, et al. “Aptamer-based factor IXa inhibition preserves hemostasis and prevents thrombosis in a piglet model of ECMO.” Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 27 (March 8, 2022): 524–34.

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Ozer, Imran, George A. Pitoc, Juliana M. Layzer, Angelo Moreno, Lyra B. Olson, Kyle D. Layzer, Angus M. Hucknall, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Ashutosh Chilkoti. “PEG-Like Brush Polymer Conjugate of RNA Aptamer That Shows Reversible Anticoagulant Activity and Minimal Immune Response.” Adv Mater 34, no. 10 (March 2022): e2107852.

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Tu, Zhaoxu, Yiling Zhong, Hanze Hu, Dan Shao, Rainer Haag, Michael Schirner, Jaewoo Lee, Bruce Sullenger, and Kam W. Leong. “Design of therapeutic biomaterials to control inflammation.” Nat Rev Mater, February 28, 2022, 1–18.

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Soule, Erin E., Haixiang Yu, Lyra Olson, Ibtehaj Naqvi, Shekhar Kumar, Sriram Krishnaswamy, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Generation of an anticoagulant aptamer that targets factor V/Va and disrupts the FVa-membrane interaction in normal and COVID-19 patient samples.” Cell Chem Biol 29, no. 2 (February 17, 2022): 215-225.e5.

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Kelly, Linsley, Lyra B. Olson, Rachel E. Rempel, Jeffrey I. Everitt, Dana Levine, Smita K. Nair, Mark E. Davis, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “β-Cyclodextrin-containing polymer treatment of cutaneous lupus and influenza improves outcomes.” Mol Ther 30, no. 2 (February 2, 2022): 845–54.

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Eteshola, Elias O. U., Karenia Landa, Rachel E. Rempel, Ibtehaj A. Naqvi, E Shelley Hwang, Smita K. Nair, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Breast cancer-derived DAMPs enhance cell invasion and metastasis, while nucleic acid scavengers mitigate these effects.” Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 26 (December 3, 2021): 1–10.

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