Sherri McFarland

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Acadia University


My laboratory develops metal-based prodrugs as diagnostic agents and as sensitizers for photodynamic applications: photodynamic therapy (PDT), photodynamic inactivation of bacteria (PDI), photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy (PACT), and various other phototherapy indications. We are also interested in the development of plant extracts as photosensitizers for PDI.


Sherri A. McFarland, PhD
Email: Sherri McFarland
Phone: (902) 585-1320

Our Group

Our projects are multidisciplinary and involve aspects of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, in particular: synthetic chemistry, photophysics and photochemistry, light devices, and cancer biology. If you are interested in our research, please contact Sherri McFarland or visit our website for more information.

Current Projects

Synthesis of Coordination Complexes as Photosensitizers for Photodynamic Applications: We are interested in constructing Type I/II dual photosensitizers that function regardless of oxygen tension and with wavelengths of light from blue to near infrared.
Photophysics, Photochemistry, and Photobiology of Coordination Complexes: Metal complexes that are constructed as metal­organic hybrids, also known as dyads, are a major focus in our lab. When long­lived triplet IL excited states are in close proximity to triplet MLCT states, they can impact the excited state dynamics in these complexes substantially. The result is an extended triplet state lifetime that gives rise to a potent PDT effect in cells with a very large phototherapeutic window. Steady­state and time­-resolved spectroscopic studies help us design even better PDT agents from first principles.
In Vitro and In Vivo PDT: We test our compounds for their performance as PDT agents in cancer cells growing in culture and in live animal models. The best agents have nanomolar light toxicities with therapeutic windows of 1000 or more. We use this information in an iterative process to design improved photosensitizers and to understand the relevant mechanistic pathways that give rise to the the observed biological activity.


Selected Publications

Stephenson, M.; Reichardt, C.; Pinto, M.; Wachtler, M.; Sainuddin, T.; Shi, G.; Yin, H.; Monro, S.; Sampson, E.; Dietzek, B.; McFarland, S.A. Ru(II) Dyads Derived from 2-(1-Pyrenyl)-1H-imidazo[4,5-f][1,10]phenanthroline: Versatile Photosensitizers for Photodynamic Applications. J. Phys. Chem. A 2014, accepted June 13, 2014. DOI:10.1021/jp504330s, 19 pages.
Shi, G.; Fong, J.; Monro, S.; Kasimova, K.; Hennigar, R.; DeCoste, R.; Spencer, C.; Colpitts, J.; Chamberlain, L.; Mandel, A.; Lilge, L.; McFarland, S.A. Ru(II) Dyads Derived from α-Oligothiophenes: a New Class of Potent and Versatile Photosensitizers for PDT. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2014, accepted April 13, 2014. DOI 10.1016/j.ccr.2014.04.012, 12 pages.
Yin, H.; Stephenson, M.; Gibson, J.; Sampson, E.; Shi, G.; Sainuddin, T.; Monro, S.; McFarland, S.A. In Vitro Multiwavelength PDT with 3IL States: Teaching Old Molecules New Tricks. Inorg. Chem. 2014, 53, 4548–4559.
Lincoln, R.; Kohler, L.; Monro, S.; Yin, H.; Stephenson, M.; Zong, R.; Thummel, R.; McFarland, S.A. Exploitation of Long-Lived 3IL Excited States for Metal–Organic Photodynamic Therapy: Verifica- tion in a Metastatic Melanoma Model. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 17161–17175.

A complete publication list is available on our publications page: