About Dr. Sandlin

Dr. Sandlin

Brief Biography

Rebecca D. Sandlin, PhD, received a BS in chemistry and mathematics from Western Kentucky University in 2007 and a PhD in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2013.

Dr. Sandlin joined the Center for Engineering in Medicine & Surgery in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow and was promoted to Instructor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2016.

Her graduate studies focused on malaria parasite biochemistry and drug discovery, with an emphasis on hemozoin formation. This crystalline, heme detoxification biomineral, is formed by the parasite and is vital to its survival.

The biological information gained from Dr. Sandlin's studies was used to develop a high-throughput screening assay that led to the identification of novel antimalarial scaffolds with potent hemozoin inhibitory activity.

Following completion of her PhD, Dr. Sandlin joined the Center for Engineering in Medicine & Surgery as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Shannon Stott, PhD, and Mehmet Toner, PhD.

Her work focuses on several projects in biostabilization and cryobiology with an emphasis on global health applications.

Research Summary

Dr. Sandlin’s research interests in global health include:

  1. Biomineralization in disease
  2. Biostabilization and cryobiology

In nature, biomineralization is observed across the entire biosphere. The formation of these biominerals generally occurs under physiological conditions in a highly controlled and organized sequence of events.

One such biomineral, hemozoin, is formed by the malaria parasite to detoxify free heme during hemoglobin digestion. Inhibition of hemozoin formation leads to parasite death, and is therefore an important drug target.

Dr. Sandlin’s research interests are in elucidating the mechanism of hemozoin formation and the identification of novel inhibitors.

The emergence of cutting edge clinical and research technologies has created a significant demand for biostabilization during transportation and storage.

The inadequacy of current preservatives creates a logistical challenge for many technologies that rely on viable, functional cells and where processing cannot be performed in low-resource settings.

Dr. Sandlin’s current projects in biostabilization include the development of cocktail preservatives for the ambient storage of whole blood and blood components, and the development of cryopreservation methods to stabilize malaria patient blood specimens.


  • BS, Western Kentucky University, 2007
  • PhD, Vanderbilt University, 2013

Research Thrusts