Faculty Directory
Josh Leonard

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Josh Leonard


Leonard Lab


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

Our group creates novel biological systems that perform customized, sophisticated functions for applications in biotechnology and medicine. Using the tools of synthetic biology, protein and biomolecule engineering, systems biology, and gene therapy, we develop technologies for manipulating and coordinating complex multicellular functions. A central area of interest for our group is controlling the function of a complex biological network - the human immune system – by engineering novel biomolecules and programmable cell-based “devices” to create novel, customized immune functions. By enabling clinicians to modify local immune responses in a patient- and disease-specific fashion, we are overcoming barriers to treatment for conditions ranging from cancer and chronic infections to autoimmune disease and transplant rejection. Other research themes include engineering coordinated microbial networks to create self-optimizing microbial consortia for applications in biotechnology, and developing platforms for synthetic interkingdomcommunication to create technologies such as symbiotic microbial biosensors that coordinate with human host cells. By bringing an engineering approach to the analysis, design, and construction of complex biological systems, we are advancing the frontiers of design-based 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

    Daringer NM, Dudek RM, Schwarz KA, Leonard JN. A Modular Extracellular Sensor Architecture for Engineering Mammalian Cell-based Devices. ACS Synthetic Biology. (epub ahead of print) 

    Gower RM, Boehler RM, Azarin SM, Ricci CF, Leonard JN, Shea LD (2014). Modulation of leukocyte infiltration and phenotype in microporous tissue engineering scaffolds via vector induced IL-10 expression. Biomaterials. 35(6):2024-31

    Marcus ME, Leonard JN (2013). Fedexosomes: Engineering Therapeutic Biological Nanoparticles that Truly Deliver. Pharmaceuticals. 6, 659-680. PMC3722064

    Boehler R, Kuo R, Shin S, Goodman A, Pilecki M, Leonard J, Shea L (2013). Lentivirus delivery of IL-10 to promote and sustain macrophage polarization towards an anti-inflammatory phenotype. Biotechnol Bioeng. (epub ahead of print)

    Jelinek I, Leonard JN, Price G, Brown K, Meyer-Manlapat A, Goldsmith PK, Wang Y, Venzon D, Epstein SL, Segal DM. TLR3-specific dsRNA oligonucleotide adjuvants induce dendritic cell cross-presentation, CTL responses, and antiviral protection. Journal of Immunology. 2011 186 (4): 2422-9.

    Samuel-Abraham S, Leonard JN. Staying on Message: Design Principles for Controlling Nonspecific Responses to siRNA. FEBS Journal. 2010 277 (23): 4828-36.

    Fritz BR, Timmerman LE, Daringer NM, Leonard JN, Jewett MC. Biology by design: from top to bottom and back. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2010 Article ID 232016, 11 pages.

    Leonard JN, Ghirlando R, Askins J, Bell JK, Margulies DH, Davies DR, Segal DM. The TLR3 signaling complex forms by cooperative receptor dimerization. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 105(1):258-63.

    Liu L, Botos I, Wang Y, Leonard JN, Shiloach J, Segal DM, Davies DR. Structural basis of toll-like receptor 3 signaling with double-stranded RNA. Science. 2008 320(5874):379-81.

    Leonard JN, Shah PS, Burnett JC, Schaffer DV. HIV evades RNA interference directed at TAR by an indirect compensatory mechanism. Cell Host Microbe. 2008 4(5):484-94.