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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
Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Professor of Neurosurgery
Office: 1079 MSRB II, Box 103035, Durham, NC 27710
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


Soule, Erin E., Kristin M. Bompiani, Rebecca S. Woodruff, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Targeting Two Coagulation Cascade Proteases with a Bivalent Aptamer Yields a Potent and Antidote-Controllable Anticoagulant.” Nucleic Acid Ther 26, no. 1 (February 2016): 1–9.

Full Text

Pratico, Elizabeth D., Bryan J. Feger, Michael J. Watson, Bruce A. Sullenger, Dawn E. Bowles, Carmelo A. Milano, and Smita K. Nair. “RNA-Mediated Reprogramming of Primary Adult Human Dermal Fibroblasts into c-kit(+) Cardiac Progenitor Cells.” Stem Cells Dev 24, no. 22 (November 15, 2015): 2622–33.

Full Text

Soule, E., S. Krishnaswamy, and B. A. Sullenger. “Development and characterization of an RNA aptamer targeting FV/FVA.” In Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 13:54–55. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2015.


Pratico, Elizabeth D., Smita K. Nair, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “66. Identification and Characterization of a B Cell Aptamer That Targets Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML).” In Molecular Therapy, 23:S29–S29. Elsevier BV, 2015.

Full Text

Gray, Bethany Powell, Linsley Kelly, Matthew Levy, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “A Novel Aptamer Targeting Agent for Prostate Cancer.” In Molecular Therapy, 23:S28–29. NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2015.


Lewis, Deborah A., Shahid M. Nimjee, George A. Pitoc, Shoeb Khan, Richard C. Becker, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Thomas L. Ortel. “Laboratory Assessment of Anti-Coagulant Properties of a Von Willebrand Factor Targeted Aptamer.” In Blood, Vol. 124. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2014.


Kumar, Shekhar, Bruce A. Sullenger, Steven Stayrook, and Sriram Krishnaswamy. “X-Ray Structure of an Anticoagulant RNA Aptamer Bound to Factor Xa. Structural Basis for Its Ability to Disrupt Interactions Between Xa and Va within Prothrombinase.” In Blood, Vol. 124. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2014.