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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


Oney, Sabah, Ruby T. S. Lam, Kristin M. Bompiani, Charlene M. Blake, George Quick, Jeremy D. Heidel, Joanna Yi-Ching Liu, et al. “Development of universal antidotes to control aptamer activity.” Nat Med 15, no. 10 (October 2009): 1224–28.

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Zhou, Jing, Boonchoy Soontornworajit, Jacob Martin, Bruce A. Sullenger, Eli Gilboa, and Yong Wang. “A hybrid DNA aptamer-dendrimer nanomaterial for targeted cell labeling.” Macromol Biosci 9, no. 9 (September 9, 2009): 831–35.

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Blake, Charlene M., Bruce A. Sullenger, Daniel A. Lawrence, and Yolanda M. Fortenberry. “Antimetastatic potential of PAI-1-specific RNA aptamers.” Oligonucleotides 19, no. 2 (June 2009): 117–28.

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Lam, Ruby T. S., Sabah Oney, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Kam W. Leong. “Oral delivery of RNA aptamer as reversible antagonist of coagulation factor IXa.” In Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 237:517–517. AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2009.


Liu, Yingmiao, Chien-Tsun Kuan, Jing Mi, Xiuwu Zhang, Bryan M. Clary, Darell D. Bigner, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Aptamers selected against the unglycosylated EGFRvIII ectodomain and delivered intracellularly reduce membrane-bound EGFRvIII and induce apoptosis.” Biol Chem 390, no. 2 (February 2009): 137–44.

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Mi, Zhiyong, Hongtao Guo, M Benjamin Russell, Yingmiao Liu, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Paul C. Kuo. “RNA aptamer blockade of osteopontin inhibits growth and metastasis of MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells.” Mol Ther 17, no. 1 (January 2009): 153–61.

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Liu, Yingmiao, Qi-An Sun, Qiang Chen, Tong H. Lee, Yangzhong Huang, William C. Wetsel, Gregory A. Michelotti, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Xiuwu Zhang. “Targeting inhibition of GluR1 Ser845 phosphorylation with an RNA aptamer that blocks AMPA receptor trafficking.” J Neurochem 108, no. 1 (January 2009): 147–57.

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Long, Stephen B., Meredith B. Long, Rebekah R. White, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Crystal structure of an RNA aptamer bound to thrombin.” Rna 14, no. 12 (December 2008): 2504–12.

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