Dr. M. Bilal Fares received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the Lebanese University in 2008 and completed his master’s studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2010. He then moved to Switzerland and pursued his doctoral studies at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and graduated with a Ph.D. in biotechnology and bioengineering in 2015. Following his doctoral studies and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lab of Prof. Hilal Lashuel at the EPFL, Dr. Fares joined the research and development center of Philip Morris International in Neuchatel and completed a 2.5-year postdoctoral fellowship. Currently, Dr. Fares is cofounder and director of research and development at ND-BioSciences.
For his master’s project at the lab of Prof. Rabih Talhouk at the AUB, Dr. Fares investigated how the interplay between gap-junctional intercellular communication and the tumor microenvironment could regulate the proliferation and invasive potential of breast cancer cells when grown in 2D versus 3D organoid cultures. Dr. Fares’s master’s work was reflected in the publication of two papers in peer-reviewed journals.
During his Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience at EPFL, Dr. Fares led and contributed to several projects aimed towards developing novel models of Parkinson’s disease, and understanding the effect of post-translational modifications and familial genetic mutations on the aggregation, clearance and inter-neuronal propagation of proteopathic seeds underlying Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Specifically, his Ph.D. Thesis work addressed a major problem pertaining to Parkinson’s disease research by establishing novel cellular and mouse models that reproduce, for the first time, the de novo fibrillization of α-Synuclein. These models, which were published in PNAS in 2016, were subsequently used to screen for therapeutic modifiers of de novo α-Synuclein aggregation and clearance in neurons.
In addition to his thesis project, Dr. Fares co-led at the EPFL multiple collaborative projects at the interface between neuroscience, biochemistry and biophysics, of which six articles have been already published in peer-reviewed journals, and three more are under preparation. For these projects, he worked hand in hand with a large team of researchers at EPFL, and also served as a visiting researcher at Cardiff University (United Kingdom), and at the University of California San Diego (UCSD, USA), to lead projects aimed at assessing the status of α-Synuclein aggregation and its patho-physiological implications in novel transgenic murine models of disease.
As a postdoc at the Systems Toxicology department at PMI-R&D, Dr. Fares served as a study director of an innovative project aimed at generating human iPSC-derived models of Parkinson’s disease, and implementing these models to screen for neuroprotective effects of candidate compounds by utilizing automated high content techniques for drug discovery. At PMI, Dr. Fares set up an independent neurobiology laboratory and managed research activities with various internal collaborators and external contract research organizations towards the completion of the project, and the preparation of a scientific manuscript for publication.