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


Horwitz, ME, Morris, A, Gasparetto, C, Sullivan, K, Long, G, Chute, J, Rizzieri, D, McPherson, J, and Chao, N. "Myeloablative intravenous busulfan/fludarabine conditioning does not facilitate reliable engraftment of dual umbilical cord blood grafts in adult recipients." Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation : Journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 14, no. 5 (May 2008): 591-594.

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Pergam, SA, Strasser, SI, Flowers, ME, Sullivan, KM, and McDonald, GB. "78: Chronic Hepatitis C, Cirrhosis, and End Stage Liver Disease Among 30-Year Survivors of Bone Marrow Transplant.": Elsevier BV, February 2008.

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Byrne, BJ, Horwitz, M, Long, GD, Gasparetto, C, Sullivan, KM, Chute, J, Chao, NJ, and Rizzieri, DA. "Outcomes of a second non-myeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation following graft rejection." Bone Marrow Transplant 41, no. 1 (January 2008): 39-43.

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Horwitz, ME, Spasojevic, I, Morris, A, Telen, M, Essell, J, Gasparetto, C, Sullivan, K, Long, G, Chute, J, Chao, N, and Rizzieri, D. "Fludarabine-based nonmyeloablative stem cell transplantation for sickle cell disease with and without renal failure: clinical outcome and pharmacokinetics." Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation : Journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 13, no. 12 (December 2007): 1422-1426.

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Nash, RA, McSweeney, PA, Crofford, LJ, Abidi, M, Chen, C-S, Godwin, JD, Gooley, TA, Holmberg, L, Henstorf, G, LeMaistre, CF, Mayes, MD, McDonagh, KT, McLaughlin, B, Molitor, JA, Nelson, JL, Shulman, H, Storb, R, Viganego, F, Wener, MH, Seibold, JR, Sullivan, KM, and Furst, DE. "High-dose immunosuppressive therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation for severe systemic sclerosis: long-term follow-up of the US multicenter pilot study." Blood 110, no. 4 (August 2007): 1388-1396.

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Panepinto, JA, Walters, MC, Carreras, J, Marsh, J, Bredeson, CN, Gale, RP, Hale, GA, Horan, J, Hows, JM, Klein, JP, Pasquini, R, Roberts, I, Sullivan, K, Eapen, M, Ferster, A, Non-Malignant Marrow Disorders Working Committee, and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, . "Matched-related donor transplantation for sickle cell disease: report from the Center for International Blood and Transplant Research." British Journal of Haematology 137, no. 5 (June 2007): 479-485.

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Rizzieri, DA, Koh, LP, Long, GD, Gasparetto, C, Sullivan, KM, Horwitz, M, Chute, J, Smith, C, Gong, JZ, Lagoo, A, Niedzwiecki, D, Dowell, JM, Waters-Pick, B, Liu, C, Marshall, D, Vredenburgh, JJ, Gockerman, J, Decastro, C, Moore, J, and Chao, NJ. "Partially matched, nonmyeloablative allogeneic transplantation: clinical outcomes and immune reconstitution." Journal of Clinical Oncology : Official Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 25, no. 6 (February 2007): 690-697.

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Craciunescu, O, Steffey, B, Yoo, S, Larrier, N, Paarz‐largay, C, Sullivan, K, and Prosnitz, R. "TU‐EE‐A2‐05: Challenges in Limiting Kidney Dose When Delivering Total Body Irradiation (TBI) for Patients with Severe Systemic Sclerosis (SSc)." January 1, 2007.

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Eggleston, B, Patience, M, Edwards, S, Adamkiewicz, T, Buchanan, GR, Davies, SC, Dickerhoff, R, Donfield, S, Feig, SA, Giller, RH, Haight, A, Horan, J, Hsu, LL, Kamani, N, Lane, P, Levine, JE, Margolis, D, Moore, TB, Ohene-Frempong, K, Redding-Lallinger, R, Roberts, IAG, Rogers, ZR, Sanders, JE, Scott, JP, Sleight, B, Thompson, AA, Sullivan, KM, and Walters, MC. "Effect of myeloablative bone marrow transplantation on growth in children with sickle cell anaemia: Results of the multicenter study of haematopoietic cell transplantation for sickle cell anaemia." British Journal of Haematology 136, no. 4 (2007): 673-676.

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Sullivan, KM, McSweeney, PA, and Nash, RA. "To the editor [3]." New England Journal of Medicine 355, no. 11 (September 14, 2006): 1173-1174. (Letter)

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