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


Clift, R. A., C. D. Buckner, E. D. Thomas, W. I. Bensinger, R. Bowden, E. Bryant, H. J. Deeg, K. C. Doney, L. D. Fisher, and J. A. Hansen. “Marrow transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia: a randomized study comparing cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation with busulfan and cyclophosphamide.” Blood 84, no. 6 (September 15, 1994): 2036–43.


Anasetti, C., J. A. Hansen, T. A. Waldmann, F. R. Appelbaum, J. Davis, H. J. Deeg, K. Doney, P. J. Martin, R. Nash, and R. Storb. “Treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease with humanized anti-Tac: an antibody that binds to the interleukin-2 receptor.” Blood 84, no. 4 (August 15, 1994): 1320–27.


Storb, R., R. Etzioni, C. Anasetti, F. R. Appelbaum, C. D. Buckner, W. Bensinger, E. Bryant, et al. “Cyclophosphamide combined with antithymocyte globulin in preparation for allogeneic marrow transplants in patients with aplastic anemia.” Blood 84, no. 3 (August 1, 1994): 941–49.


Storb, R., R. Etzioni, C. Anasetti, F. R. Appelbaum, C. D. Buckner, W. Bensinger, E. Bryant, R. Clift, H. J. Deeg, and K. Doney. “Cyclophosphamide combined with antithymocyte globulin in preparation for allogeneic marrow transplants in patients with aplastic anemia.” Blood 84, no. 3 (August 1, 1994): 941–49.


Siadak, M. F., K. Kopecky, and K. M. Sullivan. “Reduction in transplant-related complications in patients given intravenous immuno globulin after allogeneic marrow transplantation.” Clin Exp Immunol 97 Suppl 1 (July 1994): 53–57.


Deeg, H. J., C. Anasetti, E. Petersdorf, R. Storb, K. Doney, J. A. Hansen, J. Sanders, K. M. Sullivan, and F. R. Appelbaum. “Cyclophosphamide plus ATG conditioning is insufficient for sustained hematopoietic reconstitution in patients with severe aplastic anemia transplanted with marrow from HLA-A, B, DRB matched unrelated donors.” Blood 83, no. 11 (June 1, 1994): 3417–18.


Storb, R., W. Leisenring, H. J. Deeg, C. Anasetti, F. Appelbaum, W. Bensinger, C. D. Buckner, R. Clift, K. Doney, and J. Hansen. “Long-term follow-up of a randomized trial of graft-versus-host disease prevention by methotrexate/cyclosporine versus methotrexate alone in patients given marrow grafts for severe aplastic anemia.” Blood 83, no. 9 (May 1, 1994): 2749–50.


Stevens, C. D. “The case for the Clinton plan for health care reform.” N Engl J Med 330, no. 15 (April 14, 1994): 1086–87.


Seidler, C. W., L. E. Mills, M. E. Flowers, and K. M. Sullivan. “Spontaneous factor VIII inhibitor occurring in association with chronic graft-versus-host disease.” Am J Hematol 45, no. 3 (March 1994): 240–43.

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