Dr. Leung is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and a member of the Masonic Cancer Center's Cellular Mechanisms Program. He received a B.S. degree in Biochemistry at University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Leung then received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine working with Randall Reed, Ph.D. in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. He then moved to Harvard Medical School for his post-doctoral training with Joan Brugge, Ph.D. before joining the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota.
Research in the Leung Lab focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular control of cancer cell quiescence in the context of premalignant development, cancer treatments, and relapses. Our overarching goal is to identify early markers for cancer development and develop targeted approaches for treating residual disease and reducing cancer relapses. The laboratory focuses on breast cancer, but also studies other epithelial cancer types including lung and ovarian. Sustained quiescence despite genetic alterations supporting tumor growth is a common feature of premalignant cells and dormant cancer cells during cancer progression and under cancer treatments. The maintenance and outgrowth of such quiescent mutant cells underlie the checkpoints that control the latency of primary and recurrent cancer development. The Leung Lab develops 3D organotypic and animal models to recapitulate the genetic, cellular, and stromal environments of premalignant development and residual diseases. Utilizing these models as discovery platforms with diverse cellular and molecular techniques including genetic engineering, live-cell imaging, proteomics and high throughput screening, current studies in the laboratory focus on elucidating the roles of kinase signaling and epigenetic regulators in quiescent cancer cell survival and cell cycle control, and exploiting these controls to develop prognostic markers for residual diseases and therapeutic strategies for cancer relapses.
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