Marc Ferrer is the director of NCATS’ intramural 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory, a multidisciplinary group within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation that produces, validates and uses 3-D biofabricated tissues for disease modeling and drug discovery. Created as the result of NCATS’ efforts to develop and use complex 3-D cellular models for drug discovery, this laboratory is a core resource for collaborating with the scientific community to biofabricate functional human tissues in multi-well plate format (tissues-in-a-well), using relevant human primary or induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cells, to enable disease modeling and predictive toxicology and efficacy in preclinical drug testing. In this collaborative model, the laboratory provides biofabrication and drug screening expertise, while extramural researchers provide disease-relevant and 3-D modeling expertise.
Previously, Ferrer was a biology team lead at the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center (now the Early Translation Branch), where he worked with academic investigators to implement high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry programs for the discovery of small-molecule probes. During his research career, he has gained extensive experience in the implementation of 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 implemented innovative assay and screening paradigms for drug discovery, including the use of stem cells and primary cells for drug screening, as well as implementing a matrix-based screening platform for the discovery of drug combinations.
Before joining the NIH Chemical Genomics Center in 2010, Ferrer worked at Merck Research Laboratories, where he began in 1999 and ultimately 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 doctorate in biological chemistry from the University of Minnesota. His postdoctoral fellowship was at Harvard University, where he used structure-based chemical approaches to develop anti-HIV small molecules.
Dr. Ferrer has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Ferrer’s current research interests are focused on the integrative use of chemical and biological approaches to developing in vitro complex cellular models for drug discovery and therapeutic development that are more predictive of drug efficacy and toxicity in humans. He also is interested in using these models to enhance our understanding of the basic molecular principles underlying diseases to discover and validate new targets for drug interventions.