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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


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.


Holl, Eda K., Jennifer E. Bond, Maria A. Selim, Tosan Ehanire, Bruce Sullenger, and Howard Levinson. “The nucleic acid scavenger polyamidoamine third-generation dendrimer inhibits fibroblast activation and granulation tissue contraction.” Plast Reconstr Surg 134, no. 3 (September 2014): 420e-433e.

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Juwarker, Hemraj A., Eda K. Holl, Yeh-Hsing Lao, Kam W. Leong, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Nucleic-Acid Binding Polymers as Anti-Inflammatory Agents.” In Molecular Therapy, 22:S4–5. NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2014.


Kotula, Jonathan W., Jinpeng Sun, Margie Li, Elizabeth D. Pratico, Mark P. Fereshteh, Douglas P. Ahrens, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Jeffrey J. Kovacs. “Targeted disruption of β-arrestin 2-mediated signaling pathways by aptamer chimeras leads to inhibition of leukemic cell growth.” Plos One 9, no. 4 (2014): e93441.

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Ray, Partha, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Rebekah R. White. “Further characterization of the target of a potential aptamer biomarker for pancreatic cancer: cyclophilin B and its posttranslational modifications.” Nucleic Acid Ther 23, no. 6 (December 2013): 435–42.

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Frederiksen, J. W., J. Lohrmann, K. M. Bompiani, R. B. S. Smock-Woodruff, R. B. A. Gunaratne, and B. A. Sullenger. “Aptamer inhibition of an exosite of Factor (F)Xa or thrombin synergizes with non-aptamer inhibition of the catalytic site of FXa or thrombin, respectively.” In Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 11:123–24. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013.


Woodruff, R. S., Y. Xu, J. Layzer, W. Wu, M. L. Ogletree, and B. A. Sullenger. “Inhibiting the intrinsic pathway of coagulation with a factor XII-targeting RNA aptamer.” J Thromb Haemost 11, no. 7 (July 2013): 1364–73.

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Pratico, Elizabeth D., Bruce A. Sullenger, and Smita K. Nair. “Identification and characterization of an agonistic aptamer against the T cell costimulatory receptor, OX40.” Nucleic Acid Ther 23, no. 1 (February 2013): 35–43.

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