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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


Blake, Charlene M., Haichen Wang, Daniel T. Laskowitz, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “A reversible aptamer improves outcome and safety in murine models of stroke and hemorrhage.” Oligonucleotides 21, no. 1 (February 2011): 11–19.

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Povsic, Thomas J., Bruce A. Sullenger, Steven L. Zelenkofske, Christopher P. Rusconi, and Richard C. Becker. “Translating nucleic acid aptamers to antithrombotic drugs in cardiovascular medicine.” J Cardiovasc Transl Res 3, no. 6 (December 2010): 704–16.

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Huang, Leaf, Bruce Sullenger, and Rudy Juliano. “The role of carrier size in the pharmacodynamics of antisense and siRNA oligonucleotides.” J Drug Target 18, no. 8 (September 2010): 567–74.

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Woodruff, Becky, Bruce Sullenger, and Richard C. Becker. “Antithrombotic therapy in acute coronary syndrome: how far up the coagulation cascade will we go?” Curr Cardiol Rep 12, no. 4 (July 2010): 315–20.

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Becker, Richard C., Thomas Povsic, Mauricio G. Cohen, Christopher P. Rusconi, and Bruce Sullenger. “Nucleic acid aptamers as antithrombotic agents: Opportunities in extracellular therapeutics.” Thromb Haemost 103, no. 3 (March 2010): 586–95.

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Buddai, Sai K., Juliana M. Layzer, Genmin Lu, Christopher P. Rusconi, Bruce A. Sullenger, Dougald M. Monroe, and Sriram Krishnaswamy. “An anticoagulant RNA aptamer that inhibits proteinase-cofactor interactions within prothrombinase.” J Biol Chem 285, no. 8 (February 19, 2010): 5212–23.

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Mi, Jing, Yingmiao Liu, Zahid N. Rabbani, Zhongguang Yang, Johannes H. Urban, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Bryan M. Clary. “In vivo selection of tumor-targeting RNA motifs.” Nat Chem Biol 6, no. 1 (January 2010): 22–24.

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Wang, Jialiang, Timothy P. Wakeman, Justin D. Lathia, Anita B. Hjelmeland, Xiao-Fan Wang, Rebekah R. White, Jeremy N. Rich, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Notch promotes radioresistance of glioma stem cells.” Stem Cells 28, no. 1 (January 2010): 17–28.

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