Faculty Directory
Josh Leonard

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech E244
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-7455Email Josh Leonard


Leonard Lab


Center for Synthetic Biology


Chemical and Biological Engineering


Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA

Management of Technology Certificate, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, CA

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Research Interests

Synthetic biology, gene therapy, computational and experimental systems biology

My research group works at the interface of systems biology and synthetic biology in order to probe and program the function of complex, multicellular systems to develop transformative biotechnologies and enable a new paradigm of design-driven medicine. Using the tools of synthetic biology, biomolecular engineering, computational systems biology, and gene therapy, we develop technologies including programmable cell-based “devices,” immune therapies for cancer and chronic disease, smart vaccines, biosensors for global health applications, and tools for advanced metabolic engineering. By bringing an engineering approach to the investigation, design, and construction of biological systems, the Leonard group is advancing the frontiers of design-driven medicine to address unmet medical needs and create safe, effective, and long-lasting treatment options that improve both quantity and quality of life.


Selected Publications

  • Andrew K D Younger, Neil C. Dalvie, Austin G. Rottinghaus, Joshua N. Leonard, “Engineering Modular Biosensors to Confer Metabolite-Responsive Regulation of Transcription”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2017)
  • Melchior Du Lac, Andrew H. Scarpelli, Andrew K.D. Younger, Declan G. Bates, Joshua N. Leonard, “Predicting the Dynamics and Heterogeneity of Genomic DNA Content within Bacterial Populations across Variable Growth Regimes”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2017)
  • Kelly A. Schwarz, Nichole M. Daringer, Taylor B. Dolberg, Joshua N. Leonard, “Rewiring human cellular input-output using modular extracellular sensors”, Nature Chemical Biology, (2017)
  • Yishan Chuang, Michelle E. Hung, Brianne K. Cangelose, Joshua N. Leonard, “Regulation of the IL-10-driven macrophage phenotype under incoherent stimuli”, Innate Immunity, (2016)
  • Ragan A. Pitner, Andrew H. Scarpelli, Joshua N. Leonard, “Regulation of Bacterial Gene Expression by Protease-Alleviated Spatial Sequestration (PASS)”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2015)
  • Leonard, Joshua N.; Gy_rgy, Bence; Hung, Michelle E.; Breakefield, Xandra O., “Therapeutic applications of extracellular vesicles: Clinical promise and open questions”, Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, (2015)
  • Daringer, Nichole M.; Leonard, Joshua N.; Schwarz, Kelly A., “Contributions of unique intracellular domains to switchlike biosensing by Toll-like receptor 4”, Journal of Biological Chemistry, (2015)
  • Leonard, Joshua N.; Hung, Michelle E., “Stabilization of exosome-targeting peptides via engineered glycosylation”, Journal of Biological Chemistry, (2015)
  • Leonard, Joshua N.; Kath, William L.; Wells, Daniel K.; Chuang, Yishan; Knapp, Louis M., “Spatial and Functional Heterogeneities Shape Collective Behavior of Tumor-Immune Networks”, PLoS Computational Biology, (2015)
  • Daringer, Nichole M.; Leonard, Joshua N.; Schwarz, Kelly A.; Dudek, Rachel M., “Modular Extracellular sensor architecture for engineering mammalian cell-based devices”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2014)
  • Leonard, Joshua N., “The Rise of Mammals”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2014)
  • Leonard, Joshua N.; Chuang, Yishan; Dudek, Rachel M., “Engineered cell-based therapies: A vanguard of design-driven medicine”, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, (2014)
  • Gower, R. Michael; Boehler, Ryan M.; Azarin, Samira M.; Ricci, Christine F.; Leonard, Joshua N., “Modulation of leukocyte infiltration and phenotype in microporous tissue engineering scaffolds via vector induced IL-10 expression”, Biomaterials, (2014)
  • Ivett Jelinek;Joshua N. Leonard;Graeme E. Price;Kevin N. Brown;Anna Meyer-Manlapat;Paul K. Goldsmith;Yan Wang;David Venzon;Suzanne L. Epstein;David M. Segal, “TLR3-Specific Double-Stranded RNA Oligonucleotide Adjuvants Induce Dendritic Cell Cross-Presentation, CTL Responses, and Antiviral Protection”, Journal of Immunology, (2011)
  • S Samuel-Abraham;JN Leonard, “Staying on message: design principles for controlling nonspecific responses to siRNA”, Febs Journal, (2010)
  • Brian R Fritz;Laura E Timmerman;Nichole M Daringer;Joshua N Leonard;Michael C Jewett, “Biology by design: from top to bottom and back”, J Biomed Biotechnol, (2010)
  • JN Leonard, PS Shah, JC Burnett, DV ..., “HIV Evades RNA Interference Directed at TAR by an Indirect Compensatory Mechanism”, Cell Host & Microbe, (2008)
  • JN Leonard, R Ghirlando, J Askins, JK Bell, ..., “The TLR3 signaling complex forms by cooperative receptor dimerization”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (2008)
  • JN LEONARD, R GHIRLANDO, J ASKINS, et al., “The TLR3 signaling complex forms by cooperative receptor dimerization”, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, (2008)
  • L LIU, I BOTOS, Y WANG, et al., “Structural basis of toll-like receptor 3 signaling with double-stranded RNA”, SCIENCE, (2008)