Dr. Yongxin (Leon) Zhao is an interdisciplinary scientist and engineer with significant contributions in protein engineering, neuroscience, chemistry, and optics. His development of the GECO calcium ion indicators (Science 2011) and QuasAr voltage indicators (Nature Methods 2014; Nature Communications 2014) has become fundamental in neurobiology labs globally. Zhao has also led advancements in imaging with Expansion Microscopy, enhancing nanoscale imaging for biological specimens (Nature Biotechnology 2017, 2023; Nature Protocols 2020; Advanced Science 2022, 2023), and pioneered reverse applications in nanofabrication for biomedical uses (Science 2022).

At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Zhao heads a research group focusing on tools for understanding biological systems at the biomolecular level, including developing spatial profiling tools for biomarkers and computational methods like deep learning for data analysis. His work aims to introduce novel diagnostic methods. Zhao's collaborations span various fields and international borders, aiming to democratize advanced technologies for worldwide research labs. Zhao has received numerous accolades, including the NIH Director's New Innovator Award. His lab is supported by the NIH, NSF, DoD, the DSF Charitable Foundation, the Kaufman Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.