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


Walters, Mark C., Karen Hardy, Sandie Edwards, Thomas Adamkiewicz, James Barkovich, Francoise Bernaudin, George R. Buchanan, et al. “Pulmonary, gonadal, and central nervous system status after bone marrow transplantation for sickle cell disease..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 16, no. 2 (February 2010): 263–72.

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Gasparetto, Cristina, Jon P. Gockerman, Louis F. Diehl, Carlos M. de Castro, Joseph O. Moore, Gwynn D. Long, Mitchell E. Horwitz, et al. “"Short course" bortezomib plus melphalan and prednisone as induction prior to transplant or as frontline therapy for nontransplant candidates in patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 16, no. 1 (January 2010): 70–77.

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Sullivan, Keith M., Paolo Muraro, and Alan Tyndall. “Hematopoietic cell transplantation for autoimmune disease: updates from Europe and the United States..” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 16, no. 1 Suppl (January 2010): S48–56.

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Doan, P. L., J. P. Chute, C. Gasparetto, M. Horwitz, D. Rizzieri, C. Smith, K. Sullivan, et al. “Long Term Survival Following High-dose Sequential Therapy with Autologous Hematopoietic Cell Rescue for Multiple Myeloma,” 16:S201–S201, 2010.


Furlong, T., P. Martin, M. E. D. Flowers, F. Carnevale-Schianca, R. Yatscoff, T. Chauncey, F. R. Appelbaum, et al. “Therapy with mycophenolate mofetil for refractory acute and chronic GVHD..” Bone Marrow Transplant 44, no. 11 (December 2009): 739–48.

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Ballow, M., L. Notarangelo, B. Grimbacher, C. Cunningham-Rundles, M. Stein, M. Helbert, B. Gathmann, et al. “Immunodeficiencies..” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 158 Suppl 1 (December 2009): 14–22.

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Wang, J., R. A. Nash, B. Chu, V. L. Yarnykh, S. M. Schwartz, K. M. Sullivan, and C. Yuan. “Improvements in digital vasculature observed using micro magnetic resonance angiography after high-dose immunosuppression for severe systemic sclerosis..” Bone Marrow Transplant 44, no. 6 (September 2009): 387–89.

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Chien, Jason W., and Keith M. Sullivan. “Carbon monoxide diffusion capacity: how low can you go for hematopoietic cell transplantation eligibility?.” Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 15, no. 4 (April 2009): 447–53.

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Rizzieri, D. A., P. Dev, G. D. Long, C. Gasparetto, K. M. Sullivan, Ml Horwitz, J. Chute, and N. J. Chao. “Response and toxicity of donor lymphocyte infusions following T-cell depleted non-myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic SCT from 3-6/6 HLA matched donors..” Bone Marrow Transplant 43, no. 4 (February 2009): 327–33.

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