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


Anand, Sarah, Samantha Thomas, Kelly Corbet, Cristina Gasparetto, Richard Lopez, Gwynn D. Long, Ashley K. Morris, et al. “Adult Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation Using Myeloablative Total Body Irradiation, Fludarabine, and Thiotepa Conditioning.” In Blood, Vol. 128. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2016.


Sullivan, Keith M., Ankoor Shah, Stefanie Sarantopoulos, and Daniel E. Furst. “Review: Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Scleroderma: Effective Immunomodulatory Therapy for Patients With Pulmonary Involvement..” Arthritis & Rheumatology (Hoboken, N.J.) 68, no. 10 (October 2016): 2361–71.

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Sung, Anthony D., Julia A. M. Sung, Samantha Thomas, Terry Hyslop, Cristina Gasparetto, Gwynn Long, David Rizzieri, et al. “Universal Mask Usage for Reduction of Respiratory Viral Infections After Stem Cell Transplant: A Prospective Trial..” Clinical Infectious Diseases : An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 63, no. 8 (October 2016): 999–1006.

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Green, Michael M. B., Nelson Chao, Saurabh Chhabra, Kelly Corbet, Cristina Gasparetto, Ari Horwitz, Zhiguo Li, et al. “Plerixafor (a CXCR4 antagonist) following myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation enhances hematopoietic recovery..” J Hematol Oncol 9, no. 1 (August 17, 2016).

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Wild, Daniel, Anthony D. Sung, Diana Cardona, Constance Cirricione, Keith Sullivan, Claire Detweiler, Michael Shealy, et al. “The Diagnostic Yield of Site and Symptom-Based Biopsies for Acute Gastrointestinal Graft-Versus-Host Disease: A 5-Year Retrospective Review..” Digestive Diseases and Sciences 61, no. 3 (March 2016): 806–13.

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Walters, Mark C., Laura M. De Castro, Keith M. Sullivan, Lakshmanan Krishnamurti, Naynesh Kamani, Christopher Bredeson, Donna Neuberg, et al. “Indications and Results of HLA-Identical Sibling Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 22, no. 2 (February 2016): 207–11.

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Krishnamurti, Lakshmanan, Keith M. Sullivan, Naynesh R. Kamani, Edmund K. Waller, Allistair Abraham, Federico Campigotto, Wandi Zhang, et al. “Results of a Multicenter Pilot Investigation of Bone Marrow Transplantation in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease (STRIDE).” In Blood, Vol. 126. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2015.


Tuchman, Sascha A., Wendi A. Bacon, Li-Wen Huang, Gwynn Long, David Rizzieri, Mitchell Horwitz, John P. Chute, et al. “Cyclophosphamide-based hematopoietic stem cell mobilization before autologous stem cell transplantation in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma..” J Clin Apher 30, no. 3 (June 2015): 176–82.

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Kelleher, Sarah A., Hannah M. Fisher, Rebecca A. Shelby, Keith M. Sullivan, Amy P. Abernethy, Francis J. Keefe, and Tamara J. Somers. “A HYBRID IN-PERSON AND MHEALTH PAIN COPING SKILLS INTERVENTION FOR STEM CELL TRANSPLANT PATIENTS.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 49 (April 1, 2015): S216–S216.


Tuchman, S. A., W. A. Bacon, L. W. Huang, G. Long, D. Rizzieri, M. Horwitz, J. P. Chute, et al. “Cyclophosphamide-based hematopoietic stem cell mobilization before autologous stem cell transplantation in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.” Journal of Clinical Apheresis 30, no. 3 (January 1, 2015): 176–82.

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