Leonardo Rios earned his Chemical Engineering MEng and Biotechnology MSc degree at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Mexican Institute of Petroleum.
This led him to pursue his PhD in the Biochemical Engineering Department at UCL under supervision of Professor Gary J. Lye where he worked in microscale automated tools to design, model and optimise de novo pathways, specifically working with transaminases, transketolases and mono amino oxidases.
Leonardo then won a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the University of California Berkeley to perform research study at the Keasling Lab in the Joint BioEnergy Institute in the microbial synthetic biology field.
Leonardo was awarded a lectureship in 2017 at the Engineering School of the University of Edinburgh where he leads his research group at the Institute for Bioengineering.
Our research motivation at the LeoRios lab focuses in promoting further understanding on the interphase of Biochemical Engineering and Synthetic Biology as well as to find novel ways to apply this knowledge to tackle the growing socio-economic inequalities that plague the world. Dr Rios has a firm belief that if scientists gear their research and discoveries toward this end, an immense contribution will be made fighting problems like equal access to food and pharmaceuticals, boosting local economies, high quality education as well as the promotion of a greener and more sustainable environment.
Specific research topics
Microbial cell factories
At the LeoRios Lab, we apply synthetic biology tools to engineer microbial cell factories to produce high value products such as biofuels, biomaterials and pharmaceuticals. We are mainly focusing on isoprenoids (e.g. anti-cancer drug Taxol), chiral amino-alcohols and venturing in marine natural products and antibodies.
We have developed efficient metabolic and genome engineering tools which allow to sequentially built and optimise stable synthetic pathways. We combined the tools of proteomics, metabolomics, kinetic modelling, next generation sequencing and microscale automated instrumentation to rapidly detect the bottlenecks and optimise the pathway using engineering principles.
Mammalian cell factories
We are very excited to explore new production ways of biologics using mammalian cells. Therefore, we are venturing in engineering the mammalian cells using novel CRISPR Cas9 technologies to boost the production while increasing cells’ performance and suitability to the bioprocess demands.
Novel bio-equipments and bioprocesses
At the LeoRios lab, we have understood that boosting the production and maximising the potential of our synthetic genes and pathways require specific bio-equipments (e.g. bioreactors, downstream processing) to cater the new qualities of our engineered cells. Specifically, we are focused on developing reliable and easy ways to use continuous flow bioprocesses using novel materials, smart instrumentation and user-friendly software so that they can be applied in underprivileged sectors to produce their own pharmaceuticals and boost their local economies.
We have closely worked with aquaculture companies to apply our Biochemical Engineering skills to the aquaculture world. As a result, we have pioneered the development of starch based biofilters and vertical aquaculture systems.
The technologies developed in the LeoRios Lab have contributed to the creation of startups Marizca LTD, Artes Genomicas S.A de C.V and Logypot S.A de C.V.