Dr Leonardo Rios Solis

Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Synthetic Biology and Biochemical Engineering


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

His research focuses on combining the areas of Biochemical Engineering and Synthetic Biology. He is applying synthetic biology tools to engineer microbial cell factories to produce high-value products like biofuels, biomaterials and pharmaceuticals. He is also developing novel continuous-flow bioreactors to host the engineered cells, as well as engineering the microbial cell factories to be suitable for continuous flow bioprocesses.

He is also very interested in developing new cheaper bioprocesses for biologics production, which could be applied in countries from Latin-American where he co-founded the startup Artes Genomicas SA de CV, which is looking to enable wider access of expensive biologics to the underprivileged sector while promoting local production.

Leonardo is also the co-founder of Marizca LTD and Logikopt SA de CV.

Academic Qualifications

  • Research Fellow in Synthetic Biology, University of California Berkeley, Joint Bioenergy Institute, California, USA
  • Postdoc in Microscale Automated Bioprocesses, University College London, Biochemical Engineering, London, UK
  • PhD Biochemical Engineering, University College London, Biochemical Engineering, London, UK, Thesis title: Microscale evaluation of de novo engineered whole-cell biocatalysts Supervisors: Prof. G. J. Lye, Prof. and Dr F. Baganz
  • MSc Petroleum Biotechnology, National Mexican Institute of Petroleum, Department of Biotechnology, Mexico
  • BEng Chemical Engineering, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Faculty of Chemistry, Mexico

Research Interests

  • Microbial synthetic biology
  • De novo pathways for the production of high-value natural products
  • Microbial Metabolic Engineering
  • Pathway modelling, Hybrid Modelling, Machine Learning
  • Bioreactor design, scale-up, scale down, fermentation and downstream process
  • Automated microscale bioreactors
  • Enzyme production and purification
  • Continuous flow bioreactors
  • Marine Biotechnology and Aquaculture
  • Mammalian cells synthetic biology
  • Biologics production
  • Marine synthetic biology
  • Synthetic Biology Diagnostics

Awards and Honors

  • (2016) UC Berkeley Monarch Award for best postdoctoral fellowship (2500 $ award)
  • (2008) Award of CONACYT scholarship, PhD at UCL, UK
  • (2008)Award from Mexican Council scholarship for best research projects, PhD at UCL, UK
  • (2010) Award for best poster. IChemE Bioprocessing Meeting, Cambridge, UK, 13-14 April 2010.
  • (2009) Award of Institute of Education Scholarship for inspiring Teachers
  • (2005) Award of CONACYT scholarship, Msc, IMP, Mexico
  • (2005)Award of IMP scholarship for academic excellence, Msc, IMP, Mexico
  • (2005) Award for best social service research project, Bsc Chemical Engineering, UNAM, Mexico
  • (2002, 2003 and 2004) Awards for academic excellence top 3 best students, Bsc Chemical Engineering, UNAM, Mexico

Professional Qualifications, Affiliations and Memberships

  • The Biochemical Society (UK)
  • National Researcher System (SNI level 1), CONACYT, Mexico
  • Biochemical Engineering Research Group (BESRG), UK
  • Institution of Chemical Engineering (ICheme), UK
  • New York Academy of Science, USA
  • SynthSys (Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology), UK
  • Mexican Society of Biochemistry (SMB), Mexico
  • Mexican Society of Synthetic Biology, Mexico
  • The Bio-Automation Network (UK)