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


Bush, N. E., G. W. Donaldson, M. H. Haberman, R. Dacanay, and K. M. Sullivan. “Conditional and unconditional estimation of multidimensional quality of life after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a longitudinal follow-up of 415 patients.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 6, no. 5A (2000): 576–91.

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Carnevale-Schianca, F., P. Martin, K. Sullivan, M. Flowers, T. Gooley, C. Anasetti, J. Deeg, et al. “Changing from cyclosporine to tacrolimus as salvage therapy for chronic graft-versus-host disease.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 6, no. 6 (2000): 613–20.

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Donaldson, G. W., C. M. Moinpour, N. E. Bush, M. Chapko, J. Jocom, M. Siadak, M. Nielsen-Stoeck, J. M. Bradshaw, I. Bichindaritz, and K. M. Sullivan. “Physician participation in research surveys. A randomized study of inducements to return mailed research questionnaires.” Eval Health Prof 22, no. 4 (December 1999): 427–41.

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Walters, M. C., R. Storb, M. Patience, Z. R. Rogers, G. R. Buchanan, I. Roberts, A. Ogden, et al. “Stable mixed chimerism after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).” Blood 94, no. 10 (November 15, 1999): 645A-645A.


Koc, S., W. Leisenring, M. E. Flowers, K. M. Sullivan, and P. J. Martin. “Evaluation of thalidomide for the treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease in "high risk" patients.” Blood 94, no. 10 (November 15, 1999): 158A-158A.


Curtis, R. E., L. B. Travis, P. A. Rowlings, G. Socié, D. W. Kingma, P. M. Banks, E. S. Jaffe, et al. “Risk of lymphoproliferative disorders after bone marrow transplantation: a multi-institutional study.” Blood 94, no. 7 (October 1, 1999): 2208–16.


Flowers, M. E., E. Kansu, and K. M. Sullivan. “Pathophysiology and treatment of graft-versus-host disease.” Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 13, no. 5 (October 1999): 1091–ix.

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Tyndall, A., A. Fassas, J. Passweg, C. Ruiz de Elvira, M. Attal, P. Brooks, C. Black, et al. “Autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplants for autoimmune disease--feasibility and transplant-related mortality. Autoimmune Disease and Lymphoma Working Parties of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, the European League Against Rheumatism and the International Stem Cell Project for Autoimmune Disease.” Bone Marrow Transplant 24, no. 7 (October 1999): 729–34.

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Strasser, S. I., D. Myerson, C. L. Spurgeon, K. M. Sullivan, B. Storer, H. G. Schoch, S. Kim, M. E. Flowers, and G. B. McDonald. “Hepatitis C virus infection and bone marrow transplantation: a cohort study with 10-year follow-up.” Hepatology 29, no. 6 (June 1999): 1893–99.

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