Yongxin (Leon) Zhao is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his B.Sc. in Chemistry at Sun Yat-sen University, China. He then joined the Department of Chemistry at University of Alberta, Canada, in 2009. Under the guidance of Professors Robert E. Campbell and D. Jed Harrison, Leon worked on the development of novel directed evolution approaches for improved optogenetic calcium ion and voltage indicators for his doctoral projects. He developed the neuronal imaging tools, GECO and QuasAr families, which have been distributed to and used by hundreds of research groups worldwide. After earning his Ph.D. in 2014, Leon went on and joined Professor Ed Boyden’s lab as a postdoctoral associate at MIT Media lab. In the Boyden lab, he developed a transformative imaging approach, termed Expansion Pathology, for visualization of biomolecules in clinical samples with nanoscale precision using only conventional light microscopes. In the fall of 2017, Leon started his Biophotonics Engineering lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.
Leon is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award. His lab focuses on developing transformative nanoscale imaging techniques that will allow researchers to see precise “biomolecule maps” in pathology samples. These maps will allow for the comprehensive analysis of complex diseases, such as cancer, infection and immune diseases.