Sebastián Bernales did his undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the Catholic University in Chile and his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF). His early contributions to science were in the area of cell biology, especially in learning of how cells cope with accumulation of unfolded proteins and how they control organelle homeostasis. During his graduate time, Bernales was also a teaching assistant and, in 2002, was awarded the Richard Fineberg Memorial Teaching Award to the best teaching assistant of the year. He was also awarded an American Heart Fellowship during that time.
In 2007, he joined the California-based biotechnology company Medivation Inc. where his last title was Vice President of Discovery Biology. Medivation was a biopharmaceutical company that focused on the development and commercialization of medically innovative therapies to treat serious diseases, including XTANDI (enzalutamide), an approved androgen receptor inhibitor used as a treatment for prostate cancer. Pfizer acquired Medivation in 2016.
In 2016, Bernales co-founded Praxis Biotech with a group of scientists and businessmen leaders. This California-based biotech company focuses on early stage ideas that can be rapidly translated into IND ready programs. These ideas come from their strong interactions with academia and/or in-house research. Also in 2016, he started Merken Biotech, a Chilean research organization that focuses on supporting the research needs of the academic community and the private sector.