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


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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Hosing, Chitra, Richard Nash, Peter McSweeney, Shin Mineishi, James Seibold, Linda M. Griffith, Howard Shulman, et al. “Acute kidney injury in patients with systemic sclerosis participating in hematopoietic cell transplantation trials in the United States..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17, no. 5 (May 2011): 674–81.

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Craciunescu, Oana I., Beverly A. Steffey, Chris R. Kelsey, Nicole A. Larrier, Cathy J. Paarz-Largay, Robert G. Prosnitz, Nelson Chao, et al. “Renal shielding and dosimetry for patients with severe systemic sclerosis receiving immunoablation with total body irradiation in the scleroderma: cyclophosphamide or transplantation trial..” Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 79, no. 4 (March 15, 2011): 1248–55.

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Kanda, J., M. E. Horwitz, G. D. Long, C. Gasparetto, K. M. Sullivan, J. P. Chute, A. Morris, T. Hennig, N. J. Chao, and D. A. Rizzieri. “Outcomes of a 1-Day Nonmyeloablative Preparative Regimen for Primary Graft Failure After Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation.” In Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 17:S308–S308. Elsevier BV, 2011.

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Sullivan, K. M., D. B. Froshaug, D. E. Furst, R. A. Nash, M. D. Mayes, L. J. Crofford, P. A. McSweeney, E. A. Goldmuntz, L. Keyes-Elstein, and D. Khanna. “Organ Function and Quality of Life Correlates at Randomization on the Scot (Scleroderma: Cyclophosphamide or Transplantation) Trial.” In Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 17:S195–S195. Elsevier BV, 2011.

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Rizzieri, David A., Christopher Crout, Robert Storms, Jared Golob, Gwynn D. Long, Cristina Gasparetto, Keith M. Sullivan, et al. “Feasibility of low-dose interleukin-2 therapy following T-cell-depleted nonmyeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from HLA-matched or -mismatched family member donors..” Cancer Invest 29, no. 1 (January 2011): 56–61.

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Kanda, Junya, Gwynn D. Long, Cristina Gasparetto, Mitchell E. Horwitz, Keith M. Sullivan, John P. Chute, Ashley Morris, Zhiguo Li, Nelson J. Chao, and David A. Rizzieri. “Prospective, Biological Randomized Study of T-Cell Depleted Nonmyeloablative Allogeneic Transplantation From HLA-Matched Related, Unrelated or Haploidentical Donors for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies..” In Blood, 116:1456–57. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2010.


Rizzieri, David A., Robert Storms, Dong-Feng Chen, Gwynn Long, Yiping Yang, Daniel A. Nikcevich, Cristina Gasparetto, et al. “Natural killer cell-enriched donor lymphocyte infusions from A 3-6/6 HLA matched family member following nonmyeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 16, no. 8 (August 2010): 1107–14.

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Walters, Mark C., and Keith M. Sullivan. “Stem-cell transplantation for sickle cell disease..” N Engl J Med 362, no. 10 (March 11, 2010): 955–56.