Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering; McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Dr. Leonard's research interests include engineering cellular systems and biomolecules for immunotherapy, synthetic biology, and biotechnology.
The Leonard research group focuses on creating 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, they 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, they 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 interkingdom communication 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, they 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.
Office: Tech E244
Email: j-leonard [at] northwestern [dot] edu