University of Delaware - College of Engineering



Millicent O Sullivan

Millicent Sullivan
  • Associate Professor

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. Millili, P.G., Yin, D.H., Fan, H., Naik, U.P., and Sullivan, M.O., "Formulation of a Peptide Nucleic Acid Based Nucleic Acid Delivery Construct", Bioconjugate Chemistry 21, 445, (2010)
  2. Millili, P.G., Selekman, J.A., Blocker, K.M., Johnson, D.A., Naik, U.P., and Sullivan, M.O., "Structural and Functional Consequences of Poly(ethylene glycol) Inclusion on DNA Condensation for Gene Delivery", Microscopy Research and Technique - Invited 73, 866, (2010)
  3. Blocker, K.M., Kiick, K.L., and Sullivan, M.O., "Surface Immobilization of Plasmid DNA with a Cell-Responsive Tether for Substrate-Mediated Gene Delivery", Langmuir 27, 2739, (2011)
  4. Kelley, E.G.*, Smart, T.P.*, Jackson, A.J., Sullivan, M.O., and Epps, III, T.H, "Structural Changes in Block Copolymer Micelles Induced by Cosolvent Mixtures", Soft Matter 7(15), 7094, (2011)
  5. Reilly, M.J., Larsen, J.D., and Sullivan, M.O., "Histone H3 Tail Peptides and Poly(ethylenimine) have Synergistic Effects for Gene Delivery", Molecular Pharmaceutics 9(5), 1031, (2012)
  6. 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, (2012)
  7. Larsen, J.D., Reilly, M.J., and Sullivan, M.O., "Using the Epigenetic Code to Promote the Unpackaging and Transcriptional Activation of DNA Polyplexes for Gene Delivery", Molecular Pharmaceutics 9(5), 1041, (2012)
  8. Larsen, J.D., Ross, N.L., and Sullivan, M.O., "Requirements for the Nuclear Entry of Polyplexes and Nanoparticles During Mitosis", Journal of Gene Medicine 14(9-10), 580, (2012)
  9. Kelley, E.G., Albert, J.N.L., Sullivan, M.O., and Epps, III, T.H., "Solution and surface assemblies of stimuli-responsive copolymers for biomedical applications", Chemical Society Reviews - Invited; Cover doi:10.1039/C3CS35512H, (2013)
  10. 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, (2014)


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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