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.