Sandy Mattei '10 Shares Insights With ISRP Students

Hackley alum Sandy Mattei ’10 recently returned to the Hilltop to speak to students in the Independent Science Research Program.

One student found it “really interesting that she said to not rely too much on a preconceived notion of what you think that you should do and instead see where your studies take you” when reflecting on Dr. Mattei’s educational and professional journey from Hackley to Cornell, Harvard and Berlin, which ultimately led to her current position as a gene editing research scientist within cell and gene therapy at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Mattei also provided the students with advice about making the most of their internships and research opportunities while in high school and beyond. Students were engaged in learning about her journey and research, including the breakthrough medical therapies she is involved with.

Another student remarked that “she made it clear that the life she has now isn’t what she had expected, but that lots of doors were opened from her past experiences.”

During her visit, Dr. Mattei also discussed the science behind Vertex’s drug CASGEVYTM, the first approved CRISPR-based therapy in the world, which treats patients with sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia. “I very much enjoyed how she discussed the ‘functional cure’ for sickle cell that Vertex developed, … and it showed me that there are multiple points in the progression of a mutation at which a treatment can be targeted,” another student noted.

We are grateful for Dr. Mattei’s return to the Hilltop and that she took time to share her insights with the ISRP program.

All alumni and parents with present or past experiences in scientific research have a standing invitation to back and visit the Independent Science Research Program. Our future scientists love hearing your stories, and these talks are formative to their careers. If you are interested, please reach out to Dr. Andrew Ying at