Skip to main content

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


Gunaratne, Ruwan, James Frederiksen, Nabil K. Thalji, Michelle D. Ho, Gowthami M. Arepally, Rodney M. Camire, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “RNA Aptamer Against FXa Synergizes with FXa Catalytic Site Inhibitors to Effectively and Reversibly Anticoagulate Blood in an Ex Vivo Oxygenator Circuit.” In Blood, 128:3823–3823. American Society of Hematology, 2016.

Full Text

Jackman, Jennifer G., Hemraj Juwarker, Luke P. Poveromo, Howard Levinson, Kam W. Leong, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Polycationic Nanofibers for Nucleic Acid Scavenging.” Biomacromolecules 17, no. 11 (November 14, 2016): 3706–13.

Full Text

Darrabie, Marcus D., Jaewoo Lee, Jennifer Cheeseman, Alexander T. Limkakeng, Steven N. Vaslef, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Allan D. Kirk. “Toll-Like Receptor Signaling as a Prognostic Tool in Trauma Patients.” In Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 223:S159–60. Elsevier BV, 2016.

Full Text

Lee, Jaewoo, Li Xu, Tyler M. Gibson, Charles A. Gersbach, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Differential effects of toll-like receptor stimulation on mRNA-driven myogenic conversion of human and mouse fibroblasts.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun 478, no. 3 (September 23, 2016): 1484–90.

Full Text

Kahsai, Alem W., James W. Wisler, Jungmin Lee, Seungkirl Ahn, Thomas J. Cahill Iii, S Moses Dennison, Dean P. Staus, et al. “Conformationally selective RNA aptamers allosterically modulate the β2-adrenoceptor.” Nat Chem Biol 12, no. 9 (September 2016): 709–16.

Full Text

Holl, Eda K., Kara L. Shumansky, Luke B. Borst, Angela D. Burnette, Christopher J. Sample, Elizabeth A. Ramsburg, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Scavenging nucleic acid debris to combat autoimmunity and infectious disease.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113, no. 35 (August 30, 2016): 9728–33.

Full Text

Lee, Youngju, Johannes H. Urban, Li Xu, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Jaewoo Lee. “2'Fluoro Modification Differentially Modulates the Ability of RNAs to Activate Pattern Recognition Receptors.” Nucleic Acid Ther 26, no. 3 (June 2016): 173–82.

Full Text

Nimjee, Shahid M., Thomas J. Povsic, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Richard C. Becker. “Translation and Clinical Development of Antithrombotic Aptamers.” Nucleic Acid Ther 26, no. 3 (June 2016): 147–55.

Full Text