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Bruce Alan Sullenger, PhD

Joseph W. and Dorothy W. Beard Distinguished Professor of Experimental Surgery, in the School of Medicine
Professor of 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


Hu, Jiabiao, Conrad P. Hodgkinson, Richard E. Pratt, JaeWoo Lee, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Victor J. Dzau. “Enhancing cardiac reprogramming via synthetic RNA oligonucleotides.” Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 23 (March 5, 2021): 55–62.

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Stanfield, Brent A., Todd Purves, Scott Palmer, Bruce Sullenger, Karen Welty-Wolf, Krista Haines, Suresh Agarwal, and George Kasotakis. “IL-10 and class 1 histone deacetylases act synergistically and independently on the secretion of proinflammatory mediators in alveolar macrophages.” Plos One 16, no. 1 (2021): e0245169.

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Holl, Eda K., Victoria Frazier, Karenia Landa, David Boczkowski, Bruce Sullenger, and Smita K. Nair. “Controlling cancer-induced inflammation with a nucleic acid scavenger prevents lung metastasis in murine models of breast cancer.” Mol Ther, December 19, 2020.

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Zakeri, Amanda, Ashutosh P. Jadhav, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Shahid M. Nimjee. “Ischemic stroke in COVID-19-positive patients: an overview of SARS-CoV-2 and thrombotic mechanisms for the neurointerventionalist.” J Neurointerv Surg, December 9, 2020.

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Powell Gray, Bethany, Xirui Song, David S. Hsu, Christina Kratschmer, Matthew Levy, Ashley P. Barry, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “An Aptamer for Broad Cancer Targeting and Therapy.” Cancers (Basel) 12, no. 11 (October 31, 2020).

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Kasotakis, George, J Todd Purves, Suresh Agarwal, Bruce A. Sullenger, Ekaterina Kintsurashvili, Manuel D. Galvan, Christopher Graham, David L. Corcoran, Scott M. Palmer, and Daniel G. Remick. “Histone Deacetylase 7 in Murine Gram-Negative Acute Lung Injury.” Shock 53, no. 3 (March 2020): 375–77.

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Kasotakis, George, Ekaterina Kintsurashvili, Manuel D. Galvan, Christopher Graham, J Todd Purves, Suresh Agarwal, David L. Corcoran, Bruce A. Sullenger, Scott M. Palmer, and Daniel G. Remick. “Histone Deacetylase 7 Inhibition in a Murine Model of Gram-Negative Pneumonia-Induced Acute Lung Injury.” Shock 53, no. 3 (March 2020): 344–51.

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Gray, Bethany Powell, Martin D. Requena, Michael D. Nichols, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Aptamers as Reversible Sorting Ligands for Preparation of Cells in Their Native State.” Cell Chem Biol 27, no. 2 (February 20, 2020): 232-244.e7.

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