Tal Danino


Northwest Corner Building

Tel(212) 853-0787
Fax(212) 854-8725

Tal Danino’s research explores the emerging field of synthetic biology, focusing on engineering bacteria gene circuits to create novel behaviors that have biomedical applications.

Research Interests

Synthetic biology, engineering gene circuits in microbes, cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, mathematical modeling of gene network dynamics, microfluidics, biosensor applications.

Tal Danino is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. His lab engineers living medicines with a particular emphasis on developing bacteria as a cancer therapy. Originally from Los Angeles, Tal received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UCSD and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. He is the recipient of awards including the NSF CAREER Award, DoD Era of Hope Scholar Award, CRI Lloyd J Old STARs Award, Pershing Square-Sohn Prize, and is a TED Fellow. He directs the Synthetic Biological Systems Laboratory and is a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and Data Science Institute.


  • 2011-15, Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2005-11, Ph.D. Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego
  • 2001-05, B.S. Physics, Chemistry, Math, University of California, Los Angeles


  • Associate Professor (tenured), Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2023 – present
  • Associate Professor (tenure track), Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2020 – 2023
  • Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2016 – 2020


  • Member, Data Science Institute, Columbia University, 2016 - present 

  • Member, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, 2016 - present 


  • 2020 Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Lloyd J. Old Scientist’s Taking Risks (STAR) Award

  • 2020 Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research

  • 2019 NSF CAREER Award
  • 2018 ALCF Young Innovators Team Award (YITA)

  • 2017 Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Career Development Award
  • 2017 Department of Defense Era of Hope Breast Cancer Scholar Award

  • 2015 NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

  • 2015 TED Fellow

  • 2014 New England Biolabs Passion in Science Award
  • 2012 NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA)
2011 Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship
2006 Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DoE CSGF)
2002 Arthur Beckman Undergraduate Research Scholar
2001 California Governor’s Math and Science Scholar


∗ indicates corresponding senior author(s). ‡ equal contribution.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Perspectives, News, Books, and Book Chapters

  • Danino, T. Beautiful Bacteria. Rizzoli [book] (2024)
  • Redenti, A., Hahn, J., Danino, T.∗ Bacterial couriers as cancer vaccines.Nature Biomedical Engineering 6, 3–5 (2022)
  • Deb, D., Shoreibah, S., Danino, T.∗ Reimagining cancer research with art.Nature Reviews Cancer (2022)
  • Vincent, R.‡, Danino, T.∗ CAR-T cells SEAK help from enzymes.Nature Chemical Biology 18(1); 1-2 (2021)
  • Schuerle, S., Danino, T. Bacteria as Living Microrobots to Fight Cancer.The Scientist (2020)
  • Ruskin, E., Danino, T. Syndemic: Using game-based learning to engage students in the human microbiome. Connecting Sustainability Research and Teaching: Discourses on Justice, Inclusion, and Authenticity (2022)
  • Danino, T. Microuniverse. Being Material p. 20-30 (2019)
  • Gurbatri, C., Harimoto, T., Danino, T. Engineering bacterial therapeutics. Active Matter p. 70-82 (2017)