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Marc Ferrer, Ph.D.

Acting Director, Early Translation Branch

Early Translation Branch

Division of Preclinical Innovation

Director, 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory

Contact Info

Portrait of Marc Ferrer, Ph.D.


Marc Ferrer, Ph.D., is the acting director of the Early Translation Branch (ETB) within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation (DPI). He also is the director of the center’s intramural 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory, a cross-discipline group in DPI. This laboratory produces working 3-D tissues from basic biological materials (e.g., cells) — a process called biofabrication — and tests and uses the tissues for disease modeling and drug discovery. The laboratory is a core resource for working with the scientific community to produce human tissues in multi–well plate format (tissues-in-a-well) — using relevant human primary or induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cells — to support disease modeling and predict how toxic or effective compounds might be. The laboratory provides biofabrication and drug screening expertise, and outside researchers bring disease-relevant and 3-D modeling expertise.

Ferrer is an expert in setting up and using target and phenotypic-based high-throughput screens using a broad range of technologies, from biochemical to reporter gene, multiplex cell imaging, and gene expression cell-based assays. He also has developed and applied new assay and screening paradigms for drug discovery, such as using stem cells and primary cells for drug screening and implementing a matrix-based screening platform to find new drug combinations.

Previously, Ferrer was a biology team lead at the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center (now the ETB). In that role, he worked with academic researchers to start high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry programs to discover small-molecule probes. From 1999 to 2010, Ferrer worked at Merck Research Laboratories, where he became the director of assay development and high-throughput screening in the Department of Automated Biotechnology.

Ferrer earned his bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and received his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, where he used structure-based chemical approaches to develop anti-HIV small molecules.

Ferrer has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Research Topics

Ferrer’s current research interests focus on combining chemical and biological approaches to developing in vitro complex cellular models for drug discovery and development. These models are better at predicting how effective or toxic a drug may be in humans. He also is interested in using these models to improve our understanding of the basic molecular principles of diseases to discover and test new targets for drug interventions.

Last updated on March 12, 2024