Ibis Sánchez-Serrano was born in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama. He attended the University of Panama Medical School for one year and then was awarded a prestigious scholarship by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to study genetics at Iowa State University, where he immediately joined the labs of Eric Henderson and Drena Dobbs, both of whom had recently arrived from the lab of Elizabeth Blackburn, a Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine (2009), focusing on an initiative to isolate human telomerase RNA for further studies in cancer gene therapy. In 1994 he won a fellowship from Cold Spring Laboratory (CSHL), New York, to carry out a summer internship in the laboratory of Tim Tully, studying learning and memory in Drosophila melanogaster. He received his BS in genetics and art history from Iowa State University in 1996 and was the recipient of the Fung Award of Academic Excellence in Genetics.
After subsequent work at the University of Pavia (Italy), the Pasteur Institute (France), Iowa State University, and Boston University (under the mentorship of Jim Collins, MacArthur Award, and Charles Cantor, a pioneering founder of the Human Genome Project), Sánchez-Serrano was awarded a prestigious scholarship by the Organization of American States (OAS) to study at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. The same year, Sánchez-Serrano was the recipient of the title "The Outstanding Young Panamanian Person of the Year 2002," granted by the Junior Chamber International of Panama, for his leadership in promoting the development of science and technology in Panama. He was subsequently nominated for the Junior Chamber International's award "The Outstanding Young Person of the World, 2003." The leading Panamanian newspaper Panamá América named him "A Beautiful Mind in Panama" (September 22, 2002), a tribute that has also been paid to him by the premier Panamanian newspaper La Prensa, as well as by La Estrella, El Siglo, and Crítica. In 2004, he received a master's degree in international business & technology management and monetary theory & policy from Tufts University, in collaboration with Harvard's Business School and the Kennedy School of Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management (where he wrote a thesis).
Sánchez-Serrano is quite involved in community development in his native Panama and has appeared many times in the most widely accessed media outlets (television, radio, and newspaper) and has been interviewed on economic development and science and technology issues by Panama's most prominent journalists, including the former mayor of Panama City and the current governor of the Province of Panama, Mayín Correa, among many other well-known figures. Recently, he was interviewed by the prestigious journalist and news anchor Ismael Cala in his CNN show CALA, as well as by the recognized news agencies EFE, Associated Press (AP), Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), and the U.S.-based networks UNIVISION and C-SPAN, among others. In 2006, he completed an evaluation of the Panamanian health care system and warned both the government and the public of an imminent catastrophe regarding the regulation and analysis of medicines should several regulatory norms not be put in place; a few weeks later, a national scandal exploded in Panama as thousands of people were poisoned by a cold syrup prepared by the government and contaminated with diethylene glycol. This crisis immediately generated national and international attention. For this reason, Sánchez-Serrano is interested in creating a foundation in Panama for low-income people who suffer from genetic disorders so that they can receive adequate information about their disease and much-needed health care attention.
From a research point of view, Sánchez-Serrano published a seminal and forward-looking article on translational research and academia-industry relationships in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, "Success in translational research: lessons from the development of bortezomib" (2006), where he proposes a novel model, based on a "trade of assets," which he named the "Core Model," to speed up the process of drug development both in academia and in industry, receiving highly positive feedback from all over the world. He has also co-authored several other papers in molecular genetics in international peer-reviewed journals. Ibis has been a keynote speaker in many different high-profile events, including the closing ceremony of the USAID in Panama, after 50 years of operations in that country; as well as guest speaker at TEDx Panama City, Panama's INDICASAT AIP Conference on Global Infectious Diseases, and, recently, at the First Official Conference of the International Chemical Biology Society (ICBS), which took place at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, U.S.). He has received many recognitions and awards in his native country, Panama, such as "Honorary Member" of the Council for the Arts of Santiago de Veraguas, and was chosen to be the carrier of the Panamanian Flag on the "Day of the National Flag", during the Independence festivities and parades of his native city Santiago de Veraguas.
Sánchez-Serrano is the President & CEO of "The Core Model Corporation" (C.M.C.), a corporate strategy and policy advisory/consultancy firm/think tank in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and health care; and has consulted for venture capitalists in the life sciences in the past. He is also a keynote speaker in different areas within health care and economic development. He was retained as an expert consultant by the leading Panamanian newspapers La Prensa and Panamá América to contribute to the scientific sections of the papers. For his work and his book "The World's Health Care Crisis", praised as "excellent" by Choice magazine, 2012, Ibis Sánchez-Serrano was nominated to one of the world's most prestigious prizes: "Prince of Asturias Award", 2012.
A man of vast culture, Ibis speaks four languages and is an art, classical music, and literature connoisseur, and an aficionado photographer.