Beth Ann Sullivan
Beth Ann Sullivan

Beth Ann Sullivan

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor


Research in the Sullivan Lab is focused on chromosome organization, with a specific emphasis on the genomics and epigenetics of the chromosomal locus called the centromere. The centromere is a specialized chromosomal site involved in chromosome architecture and movement, and when defective, is linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility. The lab has described a unique type of chromatin (CEN chromatin) that forms exclusively at the centromere by replacement of core histone H3 by the centromeric histone variant CENP-A. Their studies also explore the composition of CEN chromatin and its relationship to the underlying highly repetitive alpha satellite DNA at the centromere. The Sullivan lab also discovered that genomic variation within alpha satellite DNA affects where the centromere is built and how well it functions. The Sullivan lab was part of the Telomere-to-Telomere T2T Consortium that used ultra long read sequencing and optical mapping to completely assemble each human chromosome, including through millions of basepairs of alpha satellite DNA at each centromere. Dr. Sullivan's group also builds human artificial chromosomes (HACs), using them as tools to test components required for a viable, transmissible chromosome and to study centromeric transcription and chromosome stability. The lab also studies formation and fate of chromosome abnormalities associated with birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, and cancer. Specifically, they study chromosomal abnormalities with two centromeres, called dicentric chromosomes. Originally described by Nobelist Barbara McClintock in the 1930s, dicentrics in most organisms are considered inherently unstable chromosomes because they trigger genome instability. However, dicentric chromosomes in humans are very stable and are often transmitted through multiple generations of a family. Using several approaches to experimentally reproduce dicentric chromosomes in human cells, the lab explores mechanisms of dicentric formation and their long-term fate.


James B. Duke Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine

2023 School of Medicine

Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the School of Medicine

2020 School of Medicine

Associate Dean of Research Training in the School of Medicine

2019 School of Medicine

Professor of Cell Biology in the School of Medicine

2022 School of Medicine

Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society in the University Initiatives & Academic Support Units

2018 University Initiatives & Academic Support Units

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute in the School of Medicine

2005 School of Medicine


Ph.D. 1995

1995 University of Maryland, Baltimore

Publications, Grants & Awards

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213 Research Drive DUMC 3054
Durham, NC
Box 3054 DUMC
Durham, NC