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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


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 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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Nimjee, Shahid M., David Dornbos, George A. Pitoc, Debra G. Wheeler, Juliana M. Layzer, Nicholas Venetos, Allyson Huttinger, et al. “Preclinical Development of a vWF Aptamer to Limit Thrombosis and Engender Arterial Recanalization of Occluded Vessels.” Mol Ther 27, no. 7 (July 3, 2019): 1228–41.

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Eteshola, Elias O., Ibtehaj A. Naqvi, Ruwan Gunaratne, Angelo Moreno, Smita K. Nair, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Abstract 4515: Utilizing nucleic-acid scavengers (NASs) to inhibit proinflammatory and proinvasive signaling in triple-negative breast cancer.” In Tumor Biology. American Association for Cancer Research, 2019.

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Moreno, Angelo, George A. Pitoc, Nancy J. Ganson, Juliana M. Layzer, Michael S. Hershfield, Alice F. Tarantal, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Anti-PEG Antibodies Inhibit the Anticoagulant Activity of PEGylated Aptamers.” Cell Chem Biol 26, no. 5 (May 16, 2019): 634-644.e3.

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Chabata, Charlene V., Ruwan Gunaratne, James W. Frederiksen, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Exploring Novel Aptamer-Heparin Combinations to Improve Anticoagulation Therapy in Cardiopulmonary Bypass.” In Molecular Therapy, 27:364–65. CELL PRESS, 2019.