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Research at NCIRE

NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Paul M. Sullam, MD

Staff Physician, Medical Service, SFVAMC
Professor of Medicine, UCSF


Investigating Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis is a life-threatening infection of the valves of the heart.  Despite the use of antibiotics and surgical therapy, this disease is fatal in 20 to 25 percent of patients. A large number also develop major complications, such as stroke or heart failure.  The population served by the VA contains a high proportion of persons at risk for endocarditis, such as patients with underlying rheumatic heart disease, a history of intravenous drug use, artificial cardiac valves, or pacemaker wires. The aim of Dr. Sullam's research is to define the basic mechanisms by which certain bacteria (streptococci and staphylococci) produce endocarditis.  He is especially interested in determining how these microbes may attach to platelets, a type of blood cell that can be found on the surface of damaged or artificial heart valves.  It is thought that this attachment of bacteria to damaged valves is the first step in producing infection.  To date, Dr. Sullam has identified several novel genes and proteins of these organisms that may mediate binding to platelets.  He is now in the process of determining how these molecules produce binding, and how this affects the progression of infection.  He hopes that this research will provide a basis for creating new therapies or vaccines to treat or prevent this serious, often fatal infectious disease.


BA, with honors, University of Chicago
MD, University of Chicago

Awards & Honors

American Federation for Clinical Research (Western Section), Upjohn Award for Excellence in Infectious Diseases Research, 1993

To see Dr. Sullam on Pub Med, click here.