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David J. Sullivan, MD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room W4606
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


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MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1988


Malaria is a “stealer of dreams” for most of Africa, which bears the brunt of more than 80% morbidity and mortality from this protozoan disease. I treated my first malaria patient as an intern at Washington University in 1988 and have been focused on this pathogen since that time.

Our group focuses on malaria diagnosis, drugs, molecular biology related to iron and pathology related to severe anemia. The lab continues to test and develop novel malaria diagnostics from real-time PCR to new urine or saliva detection platforms. These platforms now include the adaptation of immuno-PCR (antibody coupled to DNA for PCR detection) to malaria. One lead blood stage drug includes a derivative of quinine used to treat malaria in hundreds of humans in the 1930’s. Our lab is screening the FDA approved compound library to explore liver stage drug activity. The lab is also characterizing how host iron and parasite compartments modulate drug sensitivity and liver and gametocyte biology. The Plasmodium hemolysin homologue (a protein which pokes holes in red blood cells) is being characterized as a factor contributing to severe anemia. The Mapping Malaria Epidemiology in Bangladesh project is characterizing the malaria risk factors from among human-Hemoglobin E, parasite-drug resistance, mosquito-larval habitats and environmental determinants for malaria transmission in two communities with a population of 20,000 people.

Honors and Awards

Class Citizenship Award (The Netter Series) for Community Service (1988)

MAP Readers Digest International Fellowship (1988, Mussoorie, India)

Burroughs Wellcome Leadership Award A.M.A. (1994)

National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (NFID) New Investigator Matching Award 1999

Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences 1997-2000

Pew Scholars Award in Biomedical Sciences 2000-2004

2011 The Bial Award 2010 DISTINCTION for “New uses for the old drugs”

  • Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Plasmodium malaria iron copper, zinc transport hemozoin metal heme crystal chemotherapy drug discovery diagnosis placental malaria cerebral malaria FDA drug library

Selected Publications

  • Sullivan Jr., D, Gluzman, IY, Russell, DG, and Goldberg, DE, On the molecular mechanism of chloroquine's antimalarial action. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 1996. 93(21): p. 11865-70.

  • Chong, CR, Chen, X, Shi, L, Liu, JO, and Sullivan Jr., D, A clinical drug library screen identifies astemizole as an antimalarial agent. Nat Chem Biol, 2006. 2(8): p. 415-6.

  • Pisciotta, JM, Coppens, I, Tripathi, AK, Scholl, PF, Shuman, J, Bajad, S, Shulaev, V, and Sullivan Jr., D, The role of neutral lipid nanospheres in Plasmodium falciparum haem crystallization. Biochem J, 2007. 402(1): p. 197-204.

  • Khan, W.A., D.A. Sack, S. Ahmed, C.S. Prue, M.S. Alam, R. Haque, J. Khyang,M. Ram, J. Akter, M.M. Nyunt, D. Norris, G. Glass, T. Shields, M.Z. Haq, A. Cravioto, and D.J. Sullivan, Jr., Mapping hypoendemic, seasonal malaria in rural Bandarban, Bangladesh: a prospective surveillance. Malar J, 2011. 10: p.124.PMID:21569599

  • Lukianova-Hleb EY, Campbell KM, Constantinou PE, Braam J, Olson JS, Ware RE, Sullivan DJ Jr, Lapotko DO. Hemozoin-generated vapor nanobubbles for transdermal reagent- and needle-free detection of malaria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 21;111(3):900-5.