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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


Pisetsky, David S., Jaewoo Lee, Kam W. Leong, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Nucleic acid-binding polymers as anti-inflammatory agents: reducing the danger of nuclear attack.” Expert Rev Clin Immunol 8, no. 1 (January 2012): 1–3.

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Brandal, Stephanie, Charlene M. Blake, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Yolanda M. Fortenberry. “Effects of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1-specific RNA aptamers on cell adhesion, motility, and tube formation.” Nucleic Acid Ther 21, no. 6 (December 2011): 373–81.

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Ray, Partha, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Rebekah R. White. “AN RNA APTAMER IS A POTENTIAL BIOMARKER FOR PANCREATIC CANCER.” In Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, 21:A40–41. MARY ANN LIEBERT INC, 2011.


Lee, Jaewoo, Jang Wook Sohn, Ying Zhang, Kam W. Leong, David Pisetsky, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Nucleic acid-binding polymers as anti-inflammatory agents.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108, no. 34 (August 23, 2011): 14055–60.

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Burnette, Angela D., Shahid M. Nimjee, Milena Batchvarova, Rahima Zennadi, Marilyn J. Telen, Jun-Ichi Nishimura, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “RNA aptamer therapy for vaso-occlusion in sickle cell disease.” Nucleic Acid Ther 21, no. 4 (August 2011): 275–83.

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Bompiani, K. M., J. Lorhmann, J. Frederiksen, and B. A. Sullenger. “Individual anticoagulant aptamers uniquely impair thrombin generation and have a synergistic effect when used in combination.” In Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 9:278–278. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2011.