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


Kanda, J., M. E. Horwitz, G. D. Long, C. Gasparetto, K. M. Sullivan, J. P. Chute, A. Morris, et al. “Outcomes of a 1-day nonmyeloablative salvage regimen for patients with primary graft failure after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation..” Bone Marrow Transplant 47, no. 5 (May 2012): 700–705.

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Kanda, J., L. Kaynar, Y. Kanda, V. K. Prasad, S. H. Parikh, D. A. Rizzieri, G. D. Long, et al. “Use of Cyclosporine Is Associated with the Increase in Pre-Engraftment Syndrome After Myeloablative Dual Cord Blood Transplantation.” In Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 18:S332–S332. Elsevier BV, 2012.

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Burt, R. K., M. Gheorghiade, S. Shah, E. Ruderman, and J. Schroeder. “Haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for systemic sclerosis - Authors' reply.” The Lancet 379, no. 9812 (January 21, 2012): 219–20.

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Sullivan, Keith M., Frederick M. Wigley, Christopher P. Denton, Jacob M. van Laar, and Daniel E. Furst. “Haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for systemic sclerosis..” Lancet 379, no. 9812 (January 21, 2012).

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Gasparetto, Cristina, Wendi A. Bacon, Phuong Doan, David A. Rizzieri, Mitchell E. Horwitz, John P. Chute, Keith M. Sullivan, et al. “High Dose BCNU/Melphalan Preparative Regimen Doubles Event Free Survival of Myeloma Patients Undergoing Autologous Transplantation.” In Blood, 118:879–879. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2011.


Bacon, Wendi A., Gwynn D. Long, David A. Rizzieri, Mitchell E. Horwitz, John P. Chute, Keith M. Sullivan, Amanda Yopp, Angela Johns, Nelson J. Chao, and Cristina Gasparetto. “Impact of High Dose Cyclophosphamide on the Outcome of Autologous Stem Cell Transplant in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma.” In Blood, 118:1765–1765. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2011.


Kanda, Junya, David A. Rizzieri, Gwynn D. Long, Cristina Gasparetto, John P. Chute, Keith M. Sullivan, Ashley Morris, et al. “The Impact of Lymphocyte Subset Recovery At 3 Months on Progression-Free Survival After Myeloablative Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation.” In Blood, 118:1736–1736. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2011.


Palmer, J., T. Goggins, G. Broadwater, N. Chao, M. Horwitz, A. Beaven, K. Sullivan, R. E. Coleman, and D. Rizzieri. “Early post transplant (F-18) 2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography does not predict outcome for patients undergoing auto-SCT in non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma..” Bone Marrow Transplant 46, no. 6 (June 2011): 847–51.

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Kanda, Junya, David A. Rizzieri, Cristina Gasparetto, Gwynn D. Long, John P. Chute, Keith M. Sullivan, Ashley Morris, et al. “Adult dual umbilical cord blood transplantation using myeloablative total body irradiation (1350 cGy) and fludarabine conditioning..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17, no. 6 (June 2011): 867–74.

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