Blending the Best of Two Worlds

An Interview with Dr. Yuniel Fernandez Marrero

In the heart of Sygnature Discovery’s vibrant research facility in Montreal, Dr. Yuniel Fernandez Marrero stands as a beacon of innovation and dedication. With a rich background spanning continents and disciplines, Yuniel brings a unique perspective to his role as Senior Scientist II and Team Lead in Cell Biology. His journey from the picturesque landscapes of Cuba to the cutting-edge labs of Canada is not just a tale of personal achievement, but a testament to the dynamic interplay between curiosity and scientific rigor.


Journey from Curiosity to Expertise

My academic path began with a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry in Cuba, and soon after, I delved into the world of antibody engineering and immunotherapy. Seeking to deepen my understanding, I pursued a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Bern in Switzerland, exploring cell death mechanisms. This path broadened  significantly with a postdoctoral period in Toronto, which introduced me to high-content image-based screening and personalized medicine.

In 2022, I joined NuChem Sciences, now a Sygnature Discovery business, eager to apply my expertise in bridging the gap between academic research and practical industry applications. Currently, I am leading projects focused on developing small molecule agonists for immune function disorders, such as IBD and Alzheimer’s. My role requires not just scientific acumen but also the agility to drive each project towards its milestones while fostering an inquisitive scientific atmosphere within my team.

Embracing a Collaborative and Growth-Oriented Work Culture

Here at Sygnature, I thrive in a culture that values work-life balance and the continuous growth of its employees. The company’s commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a conducive environment for scientific inquiry has significantly influenced my professional growth. I lead my team by encouraging collaborative exploration and problem-solving, ensuring that our scientific pursuits align with strategic business objectives.

A recent example of our collaborative success involved integrating efforts with teams both in Montreal and the UK. This lateral integration has been crucial in pooling our internal expertise to expand our capabilities in neuroscience and innate immune areas, further enhancing our service offerings.

Driving Innovation in Drug Discovery

Under my leadership, we are pioneering the use of 3D cell culture technologies in routine drug discovery processes. This innovation aims to create more accurate models for studying the effects of new molecules, potentially revolutionizing therapeutic outcomes.

My contributions at Sygnature Discovery go beyond project successes; they extend to supporting our clients—from burgeoning startups to established enterprises—in transforming their groundbreaking research into effective therapies. Each project not only advances the scientific field but also solidifies Sygnature Discovery’s reputation as a premier drug discovery service provider in the world.

Balancing Personal and Professional Life

Outside the lab, I am passionate about outdoor activities, especially cycling and swimming. After moving to Montreal, I embraced the winter by learning to ice-skate and enjoying snowshoeing with my kids. To balance my personal and professional life, I focus on increasing efficiency at work through effective time management, which allows me to respect my work boundaries and enjoy my personal time fully.

Excited for Future Innovations

Looking ahead, I am particularly excited about the integration of organs-on-a-chip and artificial intelligence in drug development. These technologies are poised to transform early-stage drug development by enhancing the prediction accuracy of in vivo drug responses, thereby increasing the success rates of new therapies.

My story is one of blending passion with profession, where each day at Sygnature brings new challenges and opportunities to learn and contribute to the future of medicine.