Millicent O Sullivan

Millicent Sullivan
  • Professor
  • Centennial Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  • Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies

213 CLB
University of Delaware
Newark, Delaware 19716
302-831-1048 (fax)

  • Post-Doctorate - 2006 Hope Heart Program at the Benaroya Research Institute
  • Doctorate - 2003 Carnegie Mellon University
  • Bachelors - 1998 Princeton University

"A wealth of potential therapeutic opportunities remains untapped within cells. For example, DNA delivered to the nucleus can interact with the native nuclear machinery to stimulate cellular production of essentially any protein of interest, whereas short interfering RNA (siRNA) delivered to the cytosol can initiate gene silencing (and the corresponding lack of protein production). Because of the exquisite specificity of these processes and the fundamental role for proteins in biology, nucleic acid medicines have unparalleled potential to modulate tissue regeneration and cure a wide range of devastating diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and infectious diseases, yet no nucleic acid products are currently marketed. Meanwhile, various intracellular organelles are also the therapeutic targets for numerous small molecule medicines such as chemotherapies, but poorly controlled delivery regimens often cause severe side effects, multi-drug resistance phenotypes, and in some cases, a total lack of efficacy.

Our group addresses challenges in therapeutic delivery by coupling "traditional" chemical engineering strengths in molecular design, molecular self-assembly, and chemical reaction kinetics with cross-disciplinary strengths in cell and extracellular matrix (ECM) biology and the cell-material interface. We develop and use nanoscale materials to understand and probe cellular "unit ops," with long-term applications including targeted drug delivery for prostate and breast cancer, and gene therapy for wound and tissue repair."

XSelected Publications

For a complete listing of publications, please view the Full CV.
  1. Reilly, M.J., Larsen, J.D., and Sullivan, M.O., "Polyplexes Traffic through Caveolae to the Golgi and Endoplasmic Reticulum en Route to the Nucleus", Molecular Pharmaceutics 9(5), 1280-1290, (2012)
  2. Kelley, E.G., Albert, J.N.L., Sullivan, M.O., and Epps, III, T.H., "Stimuli-responsive Copolymer Solution and Surface Assemblies for Biomedical Applications", Chemical Society Reviews 42, 7057-7071, (2013)
  3. Kelley, E.G.*, Murphy, R.P.*, Seppala, J.E., Smart, T.P., Hann, S.D., Sullivan, M.O., and Epps, III, T.H., "Size Evolution of Highly Amphiphilic Macromolecular Solution Assemblies via a Distinct Bimodal Pathway", Nature Communications - doi:10.1038/ncomms4599 5, 3599, (2014)
  4. Urello, M.A., Kiick, K.L., and Sullivan, M.O., "A CMP-based Method for Tunable, Cell-mediated Gene Delivery from Collagen Scaffolds", Journal of Materials Chemistry B 2(46), 8174-8185, (2014)
  5. Ross, N.L., Munsell, E.V., Sabanayagam, C., and Sullivan, M.O., "Histone-Targeted Polyplexes Avoid Endosomal Escape and Enter the Nucleus During Post-mitotic Redistribution of ER Membranes", Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids - doi:10.1038/mtna.2015.2 4, e226, (2015)
  6. Munsell, E.V., Ross, N.L., and Sullivan, M.O - Corresponding author, "Journey to the Center of the Cell: Current Nanocarrier Design Strategies Targeting Biopharmaceuticals to the Cytoplasm and Nucleus", 22(9), 1227-1244, (2016)
  7. Ross, N.L. and Sullivan, M.O., "Overexpression of Caveolin-1 in Inflammatory Breast Cancer Cells Enables IBC-specific Gene Delivery and Prodrug Conversion using Histone-targeted Polyplexes", Biotechnology and Bioengineering doi 10.1002/bit.26022 (2016)
  8. Greco, C.T., Epps III, T.H., and Sullivan, M.O., "Mechanistic Design of Polymer Nanocarriers to Spatiotemporally Control Gene Silencing", ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering doi:10.1021/acsbiomaterials.6b00336 (2016)
  9. Urello, M.A., Kiick, K.L., and Sullivan, M.O., "Integration of Growth Factor Gene Delivery with Collagen-Triggered Wound Repair Cascades using Collagen-Mimetic Peptides", Bioengineering & Translational Medicine doi:10.1002/btm2.10037 (2016)
  10. Greco, C.T., Muir, V.M., Epps III, T.H., and Sullivan, M.O., "Efficient Tuning of siRNA Dose Response by Combining Mixed Polymer Nanocarriers with Simple Kinetic Modeling", Acta Biomaterialia, doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2017.01.003 (2017)


XSelected Awards

For a complete listing of awards, please view the Full CV.
  1. Merck Faculty Fellow: 2008
  2. NSF CAREER Award (National Science Foundation: 2008)
  3. American Society for Matrix Biology Biennial Meeting Poster Composition Winner: 2006 - 2006
  4. NIH/NIGMS/DHHS Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32): 2005 - 2006
  5. Science and Engineering Education Scholars Program (SEESP): 2002 - 2002
  6. Clare Boothe Luce Graduate Fellowship: 1999 - 2002
  7. Xerox Prize for Senior Thesis Research: 1998
  8. National Biomedical Engineering Career Symposium (University of Washington: 1997)
  9. Treasurer of the Princeton University Student Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers: 1997 - 1998
  10. Princeton Club of Michigan Scholarship: 1994 - 1996

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