Keith Michael Sullivan, MD

Professor of Medicine
James B. Wyngaarden 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


Bichindaritz, I., E. Kansu, and K. M. Sullivan. “Case-based reasoning in care-partner: Gathering evidence for evidence-based medical practice.” In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Including Subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), 1488:334–45, 1998.

Full Text

Fink, J. C., W. M. Leisenring, K. M. Sullivan, D. J. Sherrard, and N. S. Weiss. “Avascular necrosis following bone marrow transplantation: a case-control study..” Bone 22, no. 1 (January 1998): 67–71.


Bichindaritz, I., M. F. Siadak, J. Jocom, C. Moinpour, E. Kansu, G. Donaldson, N. Bush, M. Chapko, J. M. Bradshaw, and K. M. Sullivan. “CARE-PARTNER: a computerized knowledge-support system for stem-cell post-transplant long-term follow-up on the World-Wide-Web..” Proc Amia Symp, 1998, 386–90.


Sullivan, K. M., E. Kansu, B. Storer, J. Jocom, G. Emerson, T. Reagan, V. Emerson, et al. “Intravenous immunoglobulin and the risk of hepatic veno-occlusive disease after bone marrow transplantation..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 4, no. 1 (1998): 20–26.


Storek, J., T. Gooley, M. Siadak, W. I. Bensinger, D. G. Maloney, T. R. Chauncey, M. Flowers, et al. “Allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation may be associated with a high risk of chronic graft-versus-host disease..” Blood 90, no. 12 (December 15, 1997): 4705–9.


Bichindaritz, I., J. M. Bradshaw, and K. M. Sullivan. “Distributed Reuse of Knowledge in a Computerized Decision Support System for Bone-Marrow Post-Transplant Care over the World-Wide Web.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 4, no. SUPPL. (December 1, 1997).


Chen, C. S., K. Seidel, J. O. Armitage, J. W. Fay, F. R. Appelbaum, M. M. Horowitz, E. J. Shpall, et al. “Safeguarding the administration of high-dose chemotherapy: a national practice survey by the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 3, no. 6 (December 1997): 331–40.


Walters, M. C., M. Patience, W. Leisenring, Z. R. Rogers, P. Dinndorf, S. C. Davies, I. A. Roberts, et al. “Collaborative multicenter investigation of marrow transplantation for sickle cell disease: current results and future directions..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 3, no. 6 (December 1997): 310–15.


Storb, R., W. Leisenring, C. Anasetti, F. R. Appelbaum, H. J. Deeg, K. Doney, P. Martin, et al. “Methotrexate and cyclosporine for graft-vs.-host disease prevention: what length of therapy with cyclosporine?.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 3, no. 4 (October 1997): 194–201.


Sierra, J., J. Radich, J. A. Hansen, P. J. Martin, E. W. Petersdorf, J. Bjerke, E. Bryant, et al. “Marrow transplants from unrelated donors for treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia..” Blood 90, no. 4 (August 15, 1997): 1410–14.