John L. Sullivan, MD, UMMS professor of pediatrics of molecular medicine and director of the Office of Research 


John L. Sullivan, MD, named one of 10 recipients of the Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service.

October 24, 2003

WORCESTER, Mass. ─ For his roles as internationally renowned scientist, accomplished educator, compassionate physician and competent administrator, John L. Sullivan, MD, a professor of pediatrics & molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has been named one of 10 state employees to receive the Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service.

Named for the formersecretary of human services, who served from 1983 - 1984, the Carballo award is given annually to 10 state workers who exemplify "the highest standards of public service through exceptional accomplishment, superior leadership, creativity and productivity."  This year's receipt of the award by Dr. Sullivan, also director of the UMMS Office of Research, brings the Medical School's total to six in the last eight consecutive years.

"For more than twenty years, Dr. Sullivan has cared for the most vulnerable of Massachusetts’ patients—children afflicted with devastating illnesses. In addition to this role as healer, he is an internationally recognized viral immunologist whose research efforts have made a significant contribution to the biomedical community’s arsenal in the fight against AIDS worldwide. He is the epitome of public service and truly deserving of this prestigious award," said UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare, who nominated Dr. Sullivan for the award.

As one of the physicians at the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center’s specialized Pediatric HIV Immunology Clinic, Sullivan provides care to children with HIV infection while offering them direct access to clinical trials, funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Active in HIV/AIDS study and treatment since tracking began in 1981, he has received millions of dollars for research directed at understanding how the immune system fights the AIDS virus and for the development of rapid diagnostic tests for AIDS. Sullivan and colleagues were also instrumental in the discovery of the anti-retroviral drug nevirapine, which – along with his hypothesis that the drug could prevent mother-to-infant transmission – has laid the groundwork for its further investigation and distribution worldwide.

This spring, Sullivan was appointed to head a team working to develop a treatment for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the potentially fatal illness that alarmed the medical and research community last winter with its spread from Asia to North America and Europe. Working in collaboration with the UMMS Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories and Medarex, Inc., the group recently announced that they had neutralized the SARS virus in tissue cultures at the Infectious Disease Society of America’s annual meeting in San Diego.

A graduate of LeMoyne College where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology, Sullivan received his MD from the State University of New York Medical School/Upstate.  He then trained at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital (University of Washington) and, as a research investigator in virology, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Upon completion of his graduate studies in immunology at the NIH, Sullivan served a residency in pediatrics at the University of Washington, where he was a senior fellow in arthritis and immunology from 1976 to 1978.  He then joined the Medical School's faculty.

In 1999, Sullivan added director of the UMMS Office of Research to his faculty and research responsibilities. During his tenure, total extramural funding has increased 35 percent, from $93 million in FY '99 to $126 million in FY ’02 and more than 60 new investigators have joined UMMS faculty since January 2000.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country and has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $143 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources.  Research funding enables UMMS scientists to explore human disease from the molecular level to large-scale clinical trials.  Basic and clinical research leads to new approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. Visit for additional information about the medical school and the Center for Adoption Research.

Contact: Alison Duffy (508) 856-2000