Beth Sullivan, PhD – Biography

Associate Dean for Research Training

research •  biography • lab members • publications • lab website

Beth Sullivan obtained a B.A. from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in 1990 with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Classics. As an undergraduate, she worked in labs at Johns Hopkins University (Human Genetics) and at the USDA-AFRS in Kearneysville, WV (plant physiology). She began graduate school at the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB) where she worked with Dr. Stuart Schwartz in the Division of Human Genetics. In 1992, the lab moved to the Department of Genetics at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, OH, where she performed the bulk of her thesis research studies. Dr. Sullivan officially received her PhD from UMAB in 1995.

From 1996-1999, Dr. Sullivan held individual research fellowships from NSF-NATO, EMBO, and Arthritis Research UK that supported her postdoctoral work in Dr. Wendy Bickmore’s laboratory at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her postdoctoral experience abroad allowed her to travel to exciting destinations around the UK, Ireland, and Europe.

Upon appreciating the value of studying chromosome biology in a genetically tractable organism, Dr. Sullivan moved to La Jolla, CA in 1999 to do postdoctoral work in Drosophila melanogaster in Dr. Gary Karpen’s lab at the Salk Institute. In 2002, she moved to Boston University where she established her independent research lab, and was subsequently recruited to Duke in 2005 as a faculty member in MGM and the (former) Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.

Dr. Sullivan held the Basil O’Connor Scholar Award of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation from 2004-2006. Dr. Sullivan is an Associate Editor for the open-access journal PLoS Genetics, Executive Editor of Chromosome Research, and an Academic Editor for the journal PLOS ONE. She was Co-Director of the University Program in Genetics and Genomics from 2010 to 2014. Since 2015, Dr. Sullivan has been the Director of the Genetics and Genomics Cluster of the Duke Focus Program (, a living-learning interdisciplinary program for first semester undergraduates. She teaches a course on Genetics and Epigenetics, introducing students to the basics of genetics as well as the intriguing complexity of sequence-independent gene regulation and related epigenetic diseases.