​​​​​​Ariel Fernandez

Scientist - Consultant

    Ariel Fernandez (born Ariel Fernandez Stigliano, April 8, 1957 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina) is an American chemist and mathematician specialized in rational drug design and molecular biophysics. He got his Ph. D. in Chemical Physics from Yale University in 1984, the fastest awarded Ph. D. at that institution. Ariel Fernandez performed research as a senior scientist at the Max Planck Institute, working under the aegis of Nobel laureates Manfred Eigen and Robert Huber. Ariel Fernandez held the Karl F. Hasselmann chaired professorship in bioengineering at Rice University until his retirement in 2011. As Rice University professor, Ariel Fernandez served as advisor to the doctoral dissertations of Drs. Xi Zhang and Jianping Chen, both from the People’s Republic of China. He has lately taken up entrepreneurial and research activities at Ariel Fernandez Consultancy, AF Innovation, and at Collegium Basilea, the Institute for Advanced Study in Basel, Switzerland.


Ariel Fernandez received various awards including the State of Buenos Aires medal to the best university graduate (1980), the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Distinguished New Faculty Award (1989), The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1991), the J. S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1995), the Alexander von Humboldt Award (1995), Eli Lilly Award (2004), Rice endowed chair professorship (2005), John and Ann Doerr Foundation Award (2006), etc. He was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2006 and became an honorary member of Collegium Basilea, Switzerland.


Ariel Fernandez has lectured and published extensively in first-tier journals on a range of topics: algebra, dynamical systems theory, statistical mechanics, chemical physics, interfacial phenomena, drug design, cancer therapeutics and molecular evolution from a structural biology perspective. He is credited with 350 peer-reviewed scientific publications in prestigious venues such as Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, Annual Reviews of Genetics, Nature, Physical Review Letters, Genome Research and others. Ariel Fernandez's work has been reviewed in Nature, Nature Reviews Drug Design, Chemistry World (UK Royal Society), Scientific American, etc. Ariel Fernandez has also authored one book and holds two patents on drug therapy. A second advanced  textbook on biomolecular interfaces is currently in press.

Some of Ariel Fernandez's most celebrated contributions pertain to the field of drug design where his work can be described as translational. Using his physico-chemical insights, he introduced the concept of dehydron, a structural singularity in soluble proteins, and exploited this concept to construct a selectivity filter to design safer drugs. Thus, Ariel Fernandez championed the so-called wrapping technology in molecular engineering, and assessed the impact of these advances in the area of molecular cancer therapeutics. The wrapping technology enables the practitioner to design drugs with higher specificity than those currently available on the market by wrapping (i. e. shielding from water attack) the unique dehydron patterns of targeted proteins. The wrapping technology and its impact and ramifications for molecular therapeutics are described in Ariel Fernandez's book: "Transformative Concepts for Drug Design: Target Wrapping", Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2010. 
Recent Comments on the research of Ariel Fernandez

As a glance at his CV reveals, Dr. Ariel Fernandez is an extremely creative physical chemist and mathematician. His research has been heralded in most auspicious terms, as shown for example in reviews published in 2011 in Nature and Scientific American. His innovative drug designs were enthusiastically received by eminent medical doctors such as Thomas Force (Vanderbilt University) and were also covered in laudatory terms, as shown for example in a review by legendary Harvard oncologist George Demetri published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2007. Quoting Dr. Demetri:

“The first generation of kinase-inhibitory drugs such as imatinib and sunitinib have already provided patients with life-saving therapeutic options, and with tools such as those described by Fernández et al., the future certainly looks bright for constructing ever-better agents that can be combined safely and effectively to manage, and eventually cure, many forms of human cancer”.

Furthermore, in a recent collaboration with eminent cardiologist Richard Moss, Dr. Ariel Fernandez came up with a treatment of heart failure by disrupting a myosin association with a myosin-regulatory protein, a novel invention with a pending patent.

Representative publications by Ariel Fernandez

1. Ariel Fernández and Harold A. Scheraga: “Insufficiently dehydrated hydrogen bonds as determinants for protein interactions”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100, 113-118 (2003).

2. Ariel Fernández: “Keeping Dry and Crossing Membranes”. Nature Biotechnology 22, 1081-1084 (2004).

3. Ariel Fernández, Xi Zhang and Jianping Chen: “Folding and wrapping soluble proteins: Exploring the molecular basis of cooperativity and aggregation”. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science 83, 53-88 (2008).

4. Ariel Fernández and Jianping Chen: “Human capacitance to dosage imbalance: Coping with inefficient selection”. Genome Research 19, 2185-2192 (2009)

5. Ariel Fernández and Michael Lynch: “Nonadaptive origins of interactome complexity”. Nature 474, 502-505 (2011).

6. Ariel Fernández: “Epistructural tension promotes protein associations”. Physical Review Letters 108, 188102 (2012).

7. Patent US 8,466,154 B2 (awarded) Ariel Fernández et al.: “Methods and Composition of Matter Related to Wrapping of Dehydrons”. Inventors: Ariel Fernández, William Bornmann, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, Angela Sanguino, Zeng-Hong Peng, Anil K. Sood. Awarded: June 18, 2013.

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