headshot of Warren Ruder

Warren Ruder

Associate Professor
Bioengineering Department


Over the past fifteen years, the field of synthetic biology has emerged with a focus on reprogramming gene networks and cellular signaling. Simultaneously, exciting technologies have been developed that allow the precise engineering of materials and devices that mimic the cell’s native environment. My research team and I are developing new approaches in synthetic biology and linking these technologies with engineered systems that mimic cell, tissue, and organism physiology. Our efforts include the development of: (1) a living, bacterial microbiome for a biomimetic, robotic host, (2) artificial and engineered living microbiome constituents that deliver nutrients within organ-on-a-chip systems, (3) synthetically engineered cells that control material assembly, and (4) a biomimetic biofilm that combines microfluidics with synthetic biology to enable the discovery and monitoring of spatially segregated phenotypes within cell populations. These systems hold significant promise for both elucidating fundamental principles of physiology while also serving as new technologies for biotechnology and medicine.


(2018 - 2023) NIH Director's New Innovator Award.

PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, 2005 - 2009

MS, Carnegie Mellon University, 2005 - 2008

SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998 - 2002

Heyde, K.C., Scott, F.Y., Paek, S.H., Zhang, R., & Ruder, W.C. (2017). Using Synthetic Biology to Engineer Living Cells That Interface with Programmable Materials. JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, 2017(121).MyJove Corporation. doi: 10.3791/55300.

Lake, J.R., Heyde, K.C., & Ruder, W.C. (2017). Low-cost feedback-controlled syringe pressure pumps for microfluidics applications. PLOS ONE, 12(4), e0175089.Public Library of Science (PLoS). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175089.

Heyde, K.C., & Ruder, W.C. (2016). A Model of a Synthetic Biological Communication Interface between Mammalian Cells and Mechatronic Systems. IEEE Trans Nanobioscience, 15(8), 864-870.Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). doi: 10.1109/TNB.2016.2620942.

Heyde, K.C., Gallagher, P.W., & Ruder, W.C. (2016). Bioinspired decision architectures containing host and microbiome processing units. BIOINSPIRATION & BIOMIMETICS, 11(5), 056017.IOP Publishing. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/11/5/056017.

Zhang, R., Heyde, K.C., Scott, F.Y., Paek, S.H., & Ruder, W.C. (2016). Programming Surface Chemistry with Engineered Cells. ACS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY, 5(9), 936-941.American Chemical Society (ACS). doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00037.

Gonzalez, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Mitchell, A.P., Messner, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2015). Sudden motility reversal indicates sensing of magnetic field gradients in Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 strain. ISME JOURNAL, 9(6), 1399-1409.Oxford University Press (OUP). doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.224.

Heyde, K.C., & Ruder, W.C. (2015). Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of Biomimetic Robots and Engineered Living Cells. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5(1), 11988.Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi: 10.1038/srep11988.

Gonzalez, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Leduc, P.R., & Messner, W.C. (2014). Controlling Magnetotactic Bacteria through an Integrated Nanofabricated Metallic Island and Optical Microscope Approach. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 4(1), 4104.Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi: 10.1038/srep04104.

Rice, M.K., & Ruder, W.C. (2014). Creating biological nanomaterials using synthetic biology. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF ADVANCED MATERIALS, 15(1), 014401.Informa UK Limited. doi: 10.1088/1468-6996/15/1/014401.

Ruder, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2012). Cells gain traction in 3D. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 109(28), 11060-11061.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1208617109.

Ruder, W.C., Hsu, C.P.D., Jr, E.B.D., Schwartz, R., & LeDuc, P.R. (2012). Biological colloid engineering: Self-assembly of dipolar ferromagnetic chains in a functionalized biogenic ferrofluid. APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS, 101(6), 63701.AIP Publishing. doi: 10.1063/1.4742329.

Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Bakhru, S., Sitti, M., Zappe, S., Cheng, C.M., Antaki, J.F., & LeDuc, P.R. (2012). Three-dimensional microfiber devices that mimic physiological environments to probe cell mechanics and signaling. LAB ON A CHIP, 12(10), 1775-1779.Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). doi: 10.1039/c2lc21117c.

Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Brandy, N.Z.D., LaVan, D.A., LeDuc, P.R., & Antaki, J.F. (2012). Calcium signaling is gated by a mechanical threshold in three-dimensional environments. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 2(1), 554.Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi: 10.1038/srep00554.

Ruder, W.C., Lu, T., & Collins, J.J. (2011). Synthetic Biology Moving into the Clinic. SCIENCE, 333(6047), 1248-1252.American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). doi: 10.1126/science.1206843.

Kuczenski, B., Ruder, W.C., Messner, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2009). Probing Cellular Dynamics with a Chemical Signal Generator. PLOS ONE, 4(3), e4847.Public Library of Science (PLoS). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004847.

Zhang, Y., Ruder, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2008). Artificial cells: building bioinspired systems using small-scale biology. TRENDS IN BIOTECHNOLOGY, 26(1), 14-20.Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2007.09.006.

Gerbino, A., Ruder, W.C., Curci, S., Pozzan, T., Zaccolo, M., & Hofer, A.M. (2005). Termination of cAMP signals by Ca2+ and Gαi via extracellular Ca2+ sensors:: a link to intracellular Ca2+ oscillations. JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY, 171(2), 303-312.Rockefeller University Press. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200507054.

Lau, B.W., Colella, M., Ruder, W.C., Ranieri, M., Curci, S., & Hofer, A.M. (2005). Deoxycholic acid activates protein kinase C and phospholipase C via increased Ca2+ entry at plasma membrane. GASTROENTEROLOGY, 128(3), 695-707.Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2004.12.046.

Gonzalez, L.M., Tan, C., LeDuc, P.R., Messner, W.C., & Ruder, W.C. (2013). Controlled Envelopment of Magnetic Particles within Liposomes using a Custom-Built Multi-Layer Magnetic Microfluidic Device. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 104(2), (p. 546A).Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.3024.

Wilson, M.E., Gonzalez, L.M., LeDuc, P.R., & Ruder, W.C. (2013). Exploring the Mechanics of Magnetically Driven Motility in Magnetotactic Bacteria through Genetic Regulation. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 104(2), (pp. 640A-641A).Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.3538.

González, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Messner, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2012). Sensing of Local, Highly Concentrated Magnetic Field Gradients in Magnetotactic Bacteria Induces Motility Reversal. In ASME 2012 Summer Bioengineering Conference, Parts A and B, (pp. 1297-1298).American Society of Mechanical Engineers. doi: 10.1115/sbc2012-80447.

Gonzalez, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Zenkov, E., LeDuc, P.R., & Messner, W.C. (2012). Integrated Global and Local Field Sensing in Magnetospirillum Magnetotacticum. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 102(3), (p. 415A).Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.2271.

Wilson, M.E., González, L.M., Ruder, W.C., & LeDuc, P.R. (2012). Engineering Magnetic Nanomaterial Production in Magnetotactic Bacteria Through Gene Regulation. In ASME 2012 Summer Bioengineering Conference, Parts A and B, (pp. 349-350).American Society of Mechanical Engineers. doi: 10.1115/sbc2012-80446.

Wilson, M.E., Ruder, W.C., Zenkov, E., Gonzalez, L.M., & Leduc, P.R. (2012). Magnetically-Induced Genetic Response of Magnetotactic Bacteria. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 102(3), (p. 731A).Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.3966.

Gonzalez, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Chou, S., Zenkov, E., Messner, W., & LeDuc, P.R. (2011). Imposing Local Magnetic Fields to Control Magnetotactic Bacteria Through Combining Microfabrication and Magnetism. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 100(3), (p. 514).

González, L.M., Ruder, W.C., Zenkov, E., LeDuc, P.R., & Messner, W.C. (2011). Controlling Swimming Magnetotactic Bacteria Through Microfabrication Toward a Non-Destructive Biological Sensor. In ASME 2011 Summer Bioengineering Conference, Parts A and B, (PARTS A AND B), (pp. 421-422).American Society of Mechanical Engineers. doi: 10.1115/sbc2011-53336.

Ruder, W.C., Hsu, C.P., Chou, S.Y., Dawson, J.T., Gonzalez, L.M., Antaki, J.F., & LeDuc, P.R. (2010). Micropatterning Biomanufactured Single-Domain Nanoparticles using Self-Assembly to form Artificial Magnetosome Chains. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 98(3), (p. 730A).Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.12.4001.

Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Sitti, M., Leduc, P.R., & Antaki, J.F. (2009). Investigation of calcium mechanotransduction by quasi 3-D microfiber mechanical stimulation of cells. In Proceedings of the ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference, SBC2008, (PART B), (pp. 1049-1050).

Zapanta, C., Ruder, W., Newberg, J., Glass, P., Minhas, D., Osuna, E.G., Sun, L.T., Siefert, A., Shum, J., Taylor, P., Drummond, A., & Chu, B. (2009). An integrated undergraduate biomedical engineering laboratory course. In ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.

Zapanta, C., Ruder, W., Newberg, J., Glass, P., Minhas, D., Osuna, E.G., Sun, L.T., Siefert, A., Shum, J., Taylor, P., Drummond, A., & Chu, B. (2009). An integrated undergraduate biomedical engineering laboratory course. In ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.

Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Brandy, N.Z., LaVan, D.A., LeDuc, P.R., & Antaki, J.F. (2007). Stretch-Activated Calcium Signal Propagation Following Mechanical Stimulation of Focal Adhesions. In ASME 2007 Summer Bioengineering Conference, (pp. 271-272).American Society of Mechanical Engineers. doi: 10.1115/sbc2007-176431.

Research interests

2nd-Messenger Signaling
Microbiome and the Gut-Brain-Axis
Synthetic Biology
Synthetic Mammalian Signaling...