Dr. Leong’s mandate is to bring lab-grown ideas to the clinic, with a particular focus on the genitourinary system (kidney, bladder, prostate, testes, urethra, penis). The constant goal is to take concepts developed in the lab and translate them into clinical practice. The group emphasizes multidisciplinary training and collaboration to help trainees become confident and highly skilled scientists.
Dr. Leong is focused on developing “liquid biopsies” that rely on the enumeration of circulating cancer cell fragments, also known as extracellular vesicles, in the blood. Whether they are used to improve early detection for early-stage migration in pancreatic cancer, to avoid overtreatment in breast and prostate cancers, or to improve follow-up and monitoring post-treatment for kidney and colorectal cancers, the goal is to provide a noninvasive companion blood test used in combination with imaging to transform clinical outcomes. We work in collaboration with Drs. Kasia Jerzak, Christopher Lim, Stanley Liu, Laurence Klotz, and Danny Vesprini.
His group also delivers “patient avatars” (patient-derived xenografts) that will help patients select the best therapy during their cancer journey. Their patient-derived xenograft platform allows them to provide pivotal information that will lead to improved response rates in advanced cancer patients. This platform can be used to evaluate chemotherapies, targeted therapies and immunotherapies. We work in collaboration with Drs. Georg Bjarnason, Robert Kerbel, Harvey Wong, and Mark Doherty.
Drug discovery is also a very important research arm, as the group implements various pre-clinical model systems to discover new drugs for various diseases (for example, kidney stones, cancer metastasis, musculoskeletal/cartilage repair).