Keith Michael Sullivan, MD

Professor of Medicine
James B. Wyngaarden Distinguished Professor of Medicine, in the School of Medicine
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Campus mail Box 3961 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 668-1000
Email address

Research areas

  • Late effects of cancer treatment and stem cell transplantation 
  • Chronic graft-versus-host disease 
  • Transplantation for sickle cell and autoimmune diseases 
  • Knowledge engineering

Early on, Dr. Sullivan and the team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center developed a systematic investigative approach for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), the major cause of late morbidity and non-relapse mortality following allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). As a result of this work, it became clear that blood and marrow transplant recipients require systematic long-term follow-up to evaluate and treat late complications of high-dose chemoradiotherapy and SCT.

The program grew into a large multidisciplinary team, resulting in improvement in patient outcome and quality of life. Through the late events project, he also contributed to outcomes research, computer decision support systems, and knowledge engineering for follow-up care. With quality of life as a focus, research pursued the application of SCT to diseases with high morbidity but little immediate mortality. For young patients with advanced, symptomatic sickle cell disease, myeloablative conditioning and SCT from an HLA-identical sibling has led to an 86% long-term survival free of sickle cell disease. For individuals with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, and systemic lupus erythematosus, current therapy is often incomplete and significant morbidity from the disease or its treatment is observed.

Recent preclinical and clinical data suggest that high-dose immunosupression and SCT can halt the progression and, in some settings, reverse the course of autoimmune diseases. Since his arrival at Duke University, over 30 centers nationwide are participating in Duke-led phase II and III trials to test the toxicity, efficacy, and quality of life following autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation for autoimmune diseases.

These trials will also serve as platforms to study the immune repertoire and mechanistic pathways before and after SCT to gain greater insight into the basic mechanisms of autoimmunity.

A national repository of tissue and cell specimens is also part of these NIH-supported trials to further promote scientific study from these unique patients.

In Their Words

Education and Training

  • M.D., Indiana University at Indianapolis, 1971


Blanchard, S. K., K. M. Sullivan, J. N. Hooten, Z. E. Holcomb, K. Rowe Nichols, M. A. Selim, C. L. Rao, R. P. Hall, N. J. Chao, and A. R. Cardones. “High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin as adjuvant treatment for grade IV acute cutaneous graft-versus-host disease.” Br J Dermatol 181, no. 4 (October 2019): 869–71.

Full Text

Assassi, Shervin, Xuan Wang, Guocai Chen, Ellen Goldmuntz, Lynette Keyes-Elstein, Jun Ying, Paul K. Wallace, et al. “Myeloablation followed by autologous stem cell transplantation normalises systemic sclerosis molecular signatures.” Ann Rheum Dis 78, no. 10 (October 2019): 1371–78.

Full Text

Bastidas, Adriana, Javier de la Serna, Mohamed El Idrissi, Lidia Oostvogels, Philippe Quittet, Javier López-Jiménez, Filiz Vural, et al. “Effect of Recombinant Zoster Vaccine on Incidence of Herpes Zoster After Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Jama 322, no. 2 (July 9, 2019): 123–33.

Full Text

Cardones, Adela R., Keith M. Sullivan, Cindy Green, Nelson J. Chao, Krista Rowe-Nichols, Lionel L. Bañez, Claude S. Burton, et al. “Interrater Reliability of Clinical Grading Measures for Cutaneous Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease.” Jama Dermatol 155, no. 7 (July 1, 2019): 833–37.

Full Text

Cohen, Jeffrey A., Laura E. Baldassari, Harold L. Atkins, James D. Bowen, Christopher Bredeson, Paul A. Carpenter, John R. Corboy, et al. “Autologous Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Treatment-Refractory Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis: Position Statement from the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 25, no. 5 (May 2019): 845–54.

Full Text

Volkmann, Elizabeth R., Donald P. Tashkin, Myung Sim, Ning Li, Ellen Goldmuntz, Lynette Keyes-Elstein, Ashley Pinckney, et al. “Short-term progression of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis predicts long-term survival in two independent clinical trial cohorts.” Ann Rheum Dis 78, no. 1 (January 2019): 122–30.

Full Text

Sullivan, Keith M., Navneet S. Majhail, Christopher Bredeson, Paul A. Carpenter, Soumya Chatterjee, Leslie J. Crofford, George E. Georges, et al. “Systemic Sclerosis as an Indication for Autologous Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Position Statement from the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 24, no. 10 (October 2018): 1961–64.

Full Text