Joseph Rosenthal, PhD

2010 Hertz Fellow
Joseph Rosenthal

Fascinated since high school by the complexity of biology and the powerful capacity of engineering to harness the true potential of such complexity, Joseph embraced a future within the field of biomedical engineering early in his academic career. While studying bioengineering at Rice University, Joseph began developing a vision for his contribution to the future of biomedical engineering by engineering novel interfaces between the human body, modern medicine, and synthetic biology one molecule at a time. Joseph worked on high-risk, high-reward projects in viral engineering for the creation of tunable platforms for diagnostic and therapeutic bionanotechnology that garnered internal and external recognition, culminating in a Goldwater Scholarship in his junior year and both the Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship the following year.

Joseph further pursued his passion for applying quantitative modeling and novel rational design to the young but rapidly growing field of cellular and molecular bioengineering in graduate school at Cornell University. Under the instruction of Professor David Putnam, he conducted research in biologically-derived recombinant vaccine delivery platforms with applications to a variety of diseases, including hepatitis C, influenza, tuberculosis, and peanut allergies. Over the course of the four years spent in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, these efforts led to a number of patents, grants, journal papers, and conference presentations. It was during this time that Joseph discovered an additional passion not just for the biomedically relevant technology he was working on, but for medical practice itself.

Driven to be professionally positioned to best serve the public interest at the crucial nexus of biology, engineering, and medicine, Joseph completed his PhD work in 2014 and is currently pursuing an MD at Harvard Medical School through the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. He plans a career as an academic clinician researcher, with an interest in oncology practice and cancer vaccine research and design. And yes, he still plans to call himself an engineer. Joseph enjoys balancing his education and research with equally rigorous extracurricular activities (ah, the great outdoors) and spending as much time as possible with his amazing wife, Melisa.

“The collaborative event at DARPA with the Hertz Fellows was an outstanding opportunity to work outside the box with alumni and younger Fellows. There is gravitas to being named a Hertz Fellow because people know you think like an engineer and an innovator. No one trains engineers like the Hertz Fellowship.”
– Joseph Rosenthal

Graduate Studies

Cornell University
Biomedical Engineering
Engineered outer membrane vesicles derived from probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 as recombinant subunit antigen carriers for the development of pathogen-mimetic vaccines

Undergraduate Studies

Rice University


2014, Hertz Thesis Prize, Fannie & John Hertz Foundation