Faculty Directory
Josh Leonard

Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Mudd Hall, Room 5112
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-7455Email Josh Leonard


Leonard Lab


Center for Synthetic Biology


Chemical and Biological Engineering


PhD Program in Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences


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

Muldoon JJ, Kandula V, Hong M, Donahue PS, Boucher JD, Bagheri N, and Leonard JN (2021). Model-guided design of mammalian genetic programs. Science Advances.

Dolberg TB, Meger AT, Boucher JD, Corcoran WK, Schauer EE, Prybutok AN, Raman S, and Leonard JN (2021). Computation-guided optimization of split protein systems. Nature Chemical Biology.

Donahue PS, Draut JW, Muldoon JJ, Edelstein HI, Bagheri N, and Leonard JN (2020) The COMET toolkit for composing customizable genetic programs in mammalian cells. Nature Communications.

Muldoon JJ, Chuang Y, Bagheri N, and Leonard JN (2020) Macrophages employ quorum licensing to regulate collective activation. Nature Communications

Hartfield RM, Schwarz KA, Muldoon KK, Bagheri N, Leonard JN (2018) Multiplexing engineered receptors for multiparametric evaluation of environmental ligands. ACS Synthetic Biology

Stranford DM, Hung ME, Gargus ES, Shah RN,Leonard JN (2017) A systematic evaluation of factors affecting extracellular vesicle uptake by breast cancer cells. Tissue Engineering Part A

Schwarz KA, Daringer NM, Dolberg TB, Leonard JN (2017) Rewiring human cellular input–output using modular extracellular sensors. Nature Chemical Biology