Mary Sullivan, PhD, RN, FAAN

  • Professor Emerita
  • College of Nursing
  • Phone: 401.874.5339
  • Email:
  • Office Location: RI NEC, Room 241, 350 Eddy St., Providence, RI, 02903


Dr. Mary Sullivan’s scholarly focus is developmental pediatrics, particularly the outcomes of premature infants. Her longitudinal research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, includes one of the longest U.S. study tracking their long-term health and developmental outcomes.

The latest project extends the research to a 10th wave at ages 30-33 years. Outcomes of physical and psychological health, adaptive function, executive function, work, and social competence will be examined. Assessments include biomarkers of inflammation, metabolism, neuroendocrine and cardiovascular function, and epigenetics. Working with colleagues at the Brown Medical School Center for Primary Care and Prevention, her team is examining how prematurity impacts adult function, the potential for resilience, and protective effects to pinpoint optimal times and content for intervention.

She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, Past President of the Eastern Nursing Research Society (ENRS), a member of the American Academy of Nursing, American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing, and the Council for Advancement in Nursing Science. Dr. Sullivan is a past recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing. She is an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


Prematurity; children at risk; longitudinal research methods; biobehavioral models; stress mechanisms and allostatic load.


PhD, Nursing, University of Rhode Island

MS, Nursing, University of Nebraska

BS, Nursing, Salve Regina College

Selected Publications

Kelly, M.M., Arcoleo, K., D’Agata, A. L., & Sullivan, M. C. (online November 1, 2022). A test of differential susceptibility in behavior trajectories of preterm infants from preschool to adulthood. Research in Nursing & Health, 1–13.

Brewer, P., D’Agata, A., & Sullivan, M.M. (online September 30, 2022). A new cardiovascular disease risk factor for young adults: Preterm birth, Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 10, 1097. DOI# 10.1097/JXX.0000000000000784

Sullivan, M.C., D’Agata, A.L., Stanley, Z., Brewer, P. & Kelly, M.M. (online August 6, 2022). A protocol to assess adult outcomes at 30 years following preterm birth. Nursing Research, 71, (6), 491-497. DOI: 10.1097/nnr.0000000000000612, PMID: 35948305

Kelly, M. M. & Sullivan, M.C. (August 24, 2022). Differential Susceptibility: An explanation for variability in preterm birth outcomes. Advances in Nursing Science, 10, 1097, DOI: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000433

D’Agata, A. L., Green, C. E., Sullivan, M. C. (2022). A new patient population for adult clinicians: Preterm born adults. Commentary, The Lancet Regional Health – Americas. 9:100188.doi: 10.1016/j.lana.2022.100188 PMID: 35692901

Parker, H.W., Abreu, A.M., Sullivan, M.C., & Vadiveloo, M.K. (2022). Associations between allostatic load, and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 63(1), 131-140.

D’Agata, A.L., Kelly, M., Green, C.E., & Sullivan, M.C. (2022). Molding influences of prematurity: Interviews with adults born preterm. Early Human Development, 166, 105542

Jaekel, J., Anderson, P. J., Bartman, P., Cheong, J. L.Y., Doyle, L.W., Hack, M., Johnson, S., Marlow, N.,

Saigal, S., Schmidt, L., Sullivan, M. C., & Wolke, D. (2022). Early adult consequences of mathematical performance in childhood following very preterm birth: An individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 64, 421-428. DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.15132

Sullivan, M. C., Lynch, E., & Msall, M. E. (2020). Late adolescent & young adult functioning and participation outcomes after prematurity. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal MedicineSpecial Issue on Neurodevelopmental Outcomes following Very Preterm Birth. PMC6294665.

Hensman, A., Erickson-Owens, D. A., Sullivan, M. C., & Quilliam, B.J. (2020). Determinants of neonatal readmission in healthy term infants: Results from a nested case-control study. American Journal of Perinatology. Advance online publication.

Sullivan, M. C., Winchester, S. B., & Msall, M. E. (2019). Prematurity and cardiovascular risk at early adulthood. Child: Care, Health & Development, 45, 71-78.

Yang, X., Wu, H., Sullivan, M. C., Wang, J., Burckart, G. J., Troutman, J. A., & Fisher, J. W. (2019). Ontogeny equations with probability distributions for anthropomorphic measurements in preterm and term neonates and infants for use in a PBPK model. Computational Toxicology, 11, 101-117.

Winchester, S. B., Sullivan, M. C., Roberts, M. B., Bryce, C. I., & Granger, D. (2018). Long-term effects of prematurity, cumulative medical risk, and proximal and distal social forces on individual differences in diurnal cortisol at young adulthood. Biological Research for Nursing, 20(1), 5-15.

Troutman, J. A., Sullivan, M. C., Carr, G. J., & Fisher, J. (2018). Development of growth equations from longitudinal studies of body weight and height in the term and preterm neonate: From birth to four-years postnatal age. Birth Defects Research,110, 916932. https://doi.otg:10.1002/bdr2.1214

Msall, M. E., Sobatka, S. A., Dmowska, A., Hogan, D., & Sullivan, M. (2018). Life course health development outcomes after prematurity: Developing a community, clinical, and translational research agenda to optimize health, behavior, and functioning. In N. Halfon, C. B. Forrest, R. M. Lerner, & E. M. Faustman (Eds.). Handbook of life course health development, (pp. 321-348). Open Access: Springer. 319-47143-3_14

Scott, A., Winchester, S. B., & Sullivan, M. C. (2017). Trajectories of problem behaviors from 4 to 23 years in former preterm infants. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Online First January 1, 2017.

Roberts, M. B., Sullivan, M. C., Winchester, S. B. (2017). Examining solutions to missing data in longitudinal nursing research. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing22, e12179.

Sullivan, M. C., Winchester, S. B., Bryce, C. I., & Granger, D. A. (2017). Prematurity and perinatal adversity effects hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to social evaluative threat in adulthood. Developmental Psychobiology, 59, 976–983.

Winchester, S. B., Sullivan, M. C., Roberts, M. B., & Granger, D. (2016). Prematurity, birth weight, and socioeconomic status are linked to atypical diurnal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in young adults. Research in Nursing and Health, 39, 15-29.

Sharafi, M., Duffy, V. B., Miller, R. J., Winchester, S. B., Heudo-Medina, T., & Sullivan, M. C. (2016). Dietary behaviors of adult born prematurely may explain future risk of cardiovascular disease. Appetite99, 157-167.

Winchester, S. B., Sullivan, M. C. & Msall, M. E. (2014). Executive function in adult survivors of prematurity. In J. Sun, N. Buys, & J. Merrick (Eds.), Executive functioning: Role in early learning processes, impairments in neurological disorders and impact of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Nova Science Publishers.