Nancy J Sullivan, ScD

Edward Avedisian Professor

Nancy Sullivan


Dr. Nancy Sullivan is the Director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University. She assumed the role in December of 2022, a pivotal time of heightened global awareness of the threats posed by emerging infectious diseases. While building on its outstanding record of research, she intends to steer NEIDL into the space where basic scientific discovery, translational research, pandemic preparedness, and global engagement meet.

An internationally respected leader in viral immunology, emerging diseases prevention, and infectious disease research, Dr. Sullivan previously served as chief of the Biodefense Research Section at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) in the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). She was a member of the NIAID’s Pandemic Preparedness Working Group where she proposed the protoptype pathogen approach to vaccine development [i] that is now in widespread use by national and international organizations. Dr. Sullivan was also deeply involved in the US response to COVID-19. During the pandemic, she coauthored close to 40 COVID-related research papers, covering topics as diverse as vaccine and therapeutics development and tracking of SARS-CoV-2 variant resistance to neutralization.

Beyond her work on COVID-19, Dr. Sullivan has a long-standing commitment to the study of emerging pathogens with pandemic potential including, mpox, Nipah, Ebola, Marburg, and other high consequence viruses. The global importance of her work became dramatically clear in the spring of 2014 with the multi-country outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in West Africa. Based on years of prior research developing gene-based approaches to Ebola vaccines, Dr. Sullivan and her team were first to demonstrate vaccine protection against Ebola infection in primates, leading to development of the ChAd3-Ebola vaccine that was deployed for efficacy testing during the 2013-2016 outbreak.

Dr. Sullivan has received numerous citations for these achievements. She was named among “The Ebola Fighters” whom Time magazine awarded its Person of the Year in 2014; and in 2015, she was included in Politico’s Top 50, again for her work on Ebola. She has also received multiple NIH Director’s Awards, NIH Staff Recognition Awards, and NIAID Merit Awards, and she was a Service Service to America Medals finalist.

Modeling the role in public life she expects the NEIDL to play, Dr. Sullivan has taken her fight against emerging infectious diseases (EID) well outside her own lab. Her team developed vaccines against Marburg and Sudan viruses that have advanced to Phase I/II human clinical trials and are currently being developed by the Sabin Vaccines Institute. She also formed partnerships in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and led the discovery from a DRC Ebola survivor of a potently protective therapeutic monoclonal antibody, mAb114, that is effective in saving the lives of nearly 90% of Ebola patients who are treated soon after they contract the disease. In December of 2020, mAb114, became the NIH Vaccine Research Center’s first FDA-approved clinical product, and it is now marketed as Ebanga.

Alongside these scientific breakthroughs, Dr. Sullivan founded a scientific research and capacity building training program that is preparing scientists in the DRC to develop and fund their own independent, regionally appropriate research programs. By several years, this work anticipated global efforts of organizations like the WHO to decentralize and, at the same time, coordinate EID research.

Dr. Sullivan is a native of the Boston area. She earned her undergraduate degree at Merrimack College and doctorate at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. In 2023, Boston University appointed her the Edward Avedisian Professor and Professor of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology at the Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Other Positions

  • Director, National Emerging Infectious Disease Lab, Boston University
  • Professor, Virology, Immunology & Microbiology, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Professor, Biology, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences


  • Harvard University, ScD
  • Harvard University, MS
  • Merrimack College, BS


  • Published on 3/29/2024

    Happe M, Hofstetter AR, Wang J, Yamshchikov GV, Holman LA, Novik L, Strom L, Kiweewa F, Wakabi S, Millard M, Kelley CF, Kabbani S, Edupuganti S, Beck A, Kaltovich F, Murray T, Tsukerman S, Carr D, Ashman C, Stanley DA, Ploquin A, Bailer RT, Schwartz R, Cham F, Tindikahwa A, Hu Z, Gordon IJ, Rouphael N, Houser KV, Coates EE, Graham BS, Koup RA, Mascola JR, Sullivan NJ, Robb ML, Ake JA, Lyke KE, Mulligan MJ, Ledgerwood JE, Kibuuka H. Heterologous cAd3-Ebola and MVA-EbolaZ vaccines are safe and immunogenic in US and Uganda phase 1/1b trials. NPJ Vaccines. 2024 Mar 29; 9(1):67. PMID: 38553525.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/12/2024

    Honko AN, Hunegnaw R, Moliva JI, Ploquin A, Dulan CNM, Murray T, Carr D, Foulds KE, Geisbert JB, Geisbert TW, Johnson JC, Wollen-Roberts SE, Trefry JC, Stanley DA, Sullivan NJ. A Single-shot ChAd3 Vaccine Provides Protection from Intramuscular and Aerosol Sudan Virus Exposure. bioRxiv. 2024 Feb 12. PMID: 38410448.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/6/2024

    Xu D, Powell AE, Utz A, Sanyal M, Do J, Patten JJ, Moliva JI, Sullivan NJ, Davey RA, Kim PS. Design of universal Ebola virus vaccine candidates via immunofocusing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Feb 13; 121(7):e2316960121. PMID: 38319964.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/3/2024

    Sankhala RS, Lal KG, Jensen JL, Dussupt V, Mendez-Rivera L, Bai H, Wieczorek L, Mayer SV, Zemil M, Wagner DA, Townsley SM, Hajduczki A, Chang WC, Chen WH, Donofrio GC, Jian N, King HAD, Lorang CG, Martinez EJ, Rees PA, Peterson CE, Schmidt F, Hart TJ, Duso DK, Kummer LW, Casey SP, Williams JK, Kannan S, Slike BM, Smith L, Swafford I, Thomas PV, Tran U, Currier JR, Bolton DL, Davidson E, Doranz BJ, Hatziioannou T, Bieniasz PD, Paquin-Proulx D, Reiley WW, Rolland M, Sullivan NJ, Vasan S, Collins ND, Modjarrad K, Gromowski GD, Polonis VR, Michael NL, Krebs SJ, Joyce MG. Diverse array of neutralizing antibodies elicited upon Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle vaccination in rhesus macaques. Nat Commun. 2024 Jan 03; 15(1):200. PMID: 38172512.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/22/2023

    Moliva JI, Andrew SF, Flynn BJ, Wagner DA, Foulds KE, Gagne M, Flebbe DR, Lamb E, Provost S, Marquez J, Mychalowych A, Lorag CG, Honeycutt CC, Burnett MR, McCormick L, Henry AR, Godbole S, Davis-Gardner ME, Minai M, Bock KW, Nagata BM, Todd JM, McCarthy E, Dodson A, Kouneski K, Cook A, Pessaint L, Ry AV, Valentin D, Young S, Littman Y, Boon ACM, Suthar MS, Lewis MG, Andersen H, Alves DA, Woodward R, Leuzzi A, Vitelli A, Colloca S, Folgori A, Raggiolli A, Capone S, Nason MC, Douek DC, Roederer M, Seder RA, Sullivan NJ. Durable immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in both lower and upper airways achieved with a gorilla adenovirus (GRAd) S-2P vaccine in non-human primates. bioRxiv. 2023 Nov 22. PMID: 38076895.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/18/2023

    Dupuy LC, Spiropoulou CF, Towner JS, Spengler JR, Sullivan NJ, Montgomery JM. Filoviruses: Scientific Gaps and Prototype Pathogen Recommendation. J Infect Dis. 2023 Oct 18; 228(Suppl 6):S446-S459. PMID: 37849404.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/17/2023

    Xu D, Powell AE, Utz A, Sanyal M, Do J, Patten JJ, Moliva JI, Sullivan NJ, Davey RA, Kim PS. Design of universal Ebola virus vaccine candidates via immunofocusing. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 17. PMID: 37904982.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/4/2023

    Freyn AW, Atyeo C, Earl PL, Americo JL, Chuang GY, Natarajan H, Frey TR, Gall JG, Moliva JI, Hunegnaw R, Asthagiri Arunkumar G, Ogega CO, Nasir A, Santos G, Levin RH, Meni A, Jorquera PA, Bennett H, Johnson JA, Durney MA, Stewart-Jones G, Hooper JW, Colpitts TM, Alter G, Sullivan NJ, Carfi A, Moss B. An mpox virus mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine confers protection against lethal orthopoxviral challenge. Sci Transl Med. 2023 Oct 04; 15(716):eadg3540. PMID: 37792954.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/3/2023

    Mwesigwa B, Houser KV, Hofstetter AR, Ortega-Villa AM, Naluyima P, Kiweewa F, Nakabuye I, Yamshchikov GV, Andrews C, O'Callahan M, Strom L, Schech S, Anne Eller L, Sondergaard EL, Scott PT, Amare MF, Modjarrad K, Wamala A, Tindikahwa A, Musingye E, Nanyondo J, Gaudinski MR, Gordon IJ, Holman LA, Saunders JG, Costner PJM, Mendoza FH, Happe M, Morgan P, Plummer SH, Hickman SP, Vazquez S, Murray T, Cordon J, Dulan CNM, Hunegnaw R, Basappa M, Padilla M, Gajjala SR, Swanson PA, Lin BC, Coates EE, Gall JG, McDermott AB, Koup RA, Mascola JR, Ploquin A, Sullivan NJ, Kibuuka H, Ake JA, Ledgerwood JE. Safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the Ebola Sudan chimpanzee adenovirus vector vaccine (cAd3-EBO S) in healthy Ugandan adults: a phase 1, open-label, dose-escalation clinical trial. Lancet Infect Dis. 2023 Dec; 23(12):1408-1417. PMID: 37544326.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/28/2023

    Hamer MJ, Houser KV, Hofstetter AR, Ortega-Villa AM, Lee C, Preston A, Augustine B, Andrews C, Yamshchikov GV, Hickman S, Schech S, Hutter JN, Scott PT, Waterman PE, Amare MF, Kioko V, Storme C, Modjarrad K, McCauley MD, Robb ML, Gaudinski MR, Gordon IJ, Holman LA, Widge AT, Strom L, Happe M, Cox JH, Vazquez S, Stanley DA, Murray T, Dulan CNM, Hunegnaw R, Narpala SR, Swanson PA, Basappa M, Thillainathan J, Padilla M, Flach B, O'Connell S, Trofymenko O, Morgan P, Coates EE, Gall JG, McDermott AB, Koup RA, Mascola JR, Ploquin A, Sullivan NJ, Ake JA, Ledgerwood JE. Safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the chimpanzee adenovirus type 3-vectored Marburg virus (cAd3-Marburg) vaccine in healthy adults in the USA: a first-in-human, phase 1, open-label, dose-escalation trial. Lancet. 2023 Jan 28; 401(10373):294-302. PMID: 36709074.

    Read at: PubMed

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