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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


Holl, Eda K., Kara L. Shumansky, George Pitoc, Elizabeth Ramsburg, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Nucleic acid scavenging polymers inhibit extracellular DNA-mediated innate immune activation without inhibiting anti-viral responses.” Plos One 8, no. 7 (2013): e69413.

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Ray, Partha, Marcus A. Cheek, Mariam L. Sharaf, Na Li, Andrew D. Ellington, Bruce A. Sullenger, Barbara Ramsay Shaw, and Rebekah R. White. “Aptamer-mediated delivery of chemotherapy to pancreatic cancer cells.” Nucleic Acid Ther 22, no. 5 (October 2012): 295–305.

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Jain, Shashank, George A. Pitoc, Eda K. Holl, Ying Zhang, Luke Borst, Kam W. Leong, Jaewoo Lee, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Nucleic acid scavengers inhibit thrombosis without increasing bleeding.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109, no. 32 (August 7, 2012): 12938–43.

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Bompiani, K. M., R. S. Woodruff, R. C. Becker, S. M. Nimjee, and B. A. Sullenger. “Antidote control of aptamer therapeutics: the road to a safer class of drug agents.” Curr Pharm Biotechnol 13, no. 10 (August 2012): 1924–34.

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Rangnekar, Abhijit, Alex M. Zhang, Susan Shiyuan Li, Kristin M. Bompiani, Majken N. Hansen, Kurt V. Gothelf, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Thomas H. LaBean. “Increased anticoagulant activity of thrombin-binding DNA aptamers by nanoscale organization on DNA nanostructures.” Nanomedicine 8, no. 5 (July 2012): 673–81.

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Kotula, Jonathan W., Elizabeth D. Pratico, Xin Ming, Osamu Nakagawa, Rudolph L. Juliano, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Aptamer-mediated delivery of splice-switching oligonucleotides to the nuclei of cancer cells.” Nucleic Acid Ther 22, no. 3 (June 2012): 187–95.

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Bompiani, K. M., D. M. Monroe, F. C. Church, and B. A. Sullenger. “A high affinity, antidote-controllable prothrombin and thrombin-binding RNA aptamer inhibits thrombin generation and thrombin activity.” J Thromb Haemost 10, no. 5 (May 2012): 870–80.

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Ray, Partha, Kristy L. Rialon-Guevara, Emanuela Veras, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Rebekah R. White. “Comparing human pancreatic cell secretomes by in vitro aptamer selection identifies cyclophilin B as a candidate pancreatic cancer biomarker.” J Clin Invest 122, no. 5 (May 2012): 1734–41.

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Sullenger, Bruce, Rebecca Woodruff, and Dougald M. Monroe. “Potent anticoagulant aptamer directed against factor IXa blocks macromolecular substrate interaction.” J Biol Chem 287, no. 16 (April 13, 2012): 12779–86.

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Nimjee, Shahid M., Jens D. Lohrmann, Haichen Wang, David J. Snyder, Thomas J. Cummings, Richard C. Becker, Sabah Oney, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Rapidly regulating platelet activity in vivo with an antidote controlled platelet inhibitor.” Mol Ther 20, no. 2 (February 2012): 391–97.

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