Kam W. Leong


351 Engineering Terrace
Mail Code 8904

Tel(443) 850-6756

Leong’s research focuses on the development of innovative biomaterials for two major therapeutic applications:  drug delivery and regenerative medicine. He uses polymeric biomaterials to deliver chemotherapeutics, DNA-based therapeutics, and cells for cancer therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and cell therapy. He also uses tissue engineering principles and stem cell engineering to construct human tissue-on-a-chip for disease modeling and high throughput drug screening.

Research Interests

Nanomedicine, drug therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, cell therapy, stem cell engineering, organ-on-a-chip, biomanufacturing, advanced tissue biofabrication.

In cancer therapy, Leong collaborates with Dr. Tadao Ohno to develop a tumor vaccine comprising cytokines and tumor tissue fragments from the patients. It has been used to treat over 350 brain cancer patients in Japan. In nonviral gene therapy, Leong demonstrates the feasibility of using DNA nanoparticles to deliver FVIII and FIX genes orally to treat hemophilia in animal models. He has also developed nanomanufacturing techniques to produce DNA nanoparticles, a critical barrier in the eventual translation of nanomedicine. In regenerative medicine, Leong pioneers the application of DNA nanoparticles to convert adult cells from one cell type to another, raising the possibility of treating intractable neurodegenerative disorders via nonviral cell reprogramming. He has also recently developed nanoparticle-mediated genome editing technologies to delete harmful genes and correct genetic disorders. The work will impact precision medicine and the development of human tissue-on-a-chip for new drug development.

Leong received a BS in chemical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Editor-in-Chief of Biomaterials

Research Experience

  • Research Associate, M.I.T., 1982-1986

Professional Experience

  • Samuel Y. Sheng Professor, Columbia University, 2014–
  • James B. Duke Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 2007–2014
  • Assistant, Associate, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 1987-2006

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering Society

Honors & Awards

  • National Academy of Medicine, 2020
  • Honorary professorship: Wuhan University, Sun Yat-sen University, Sichuan University, Zhejiang University, Beijing University of Chemical Technology
  • Clemson Award for Applied Research – Society for Biomaterials
  • Distinguished Scientist Award - International Journal of Nanomedicine
  • President’s Fellowship for Distinguished Scientist - Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Chinese American Society of Nanotechnology & Nanomedicine
  • National Academy of Inventors, 2013
  • National Academy of Engineering, 2013

Selected Publications

  • Ji H, Atchison L, Chen Z, Chakraborty S, Jung Y, Truskey GA, Christoforou N, and Leong KW*. Transdifferentiation of human endothelial progenitors into smooth muscle cells. Biomaterials (2016). 85:180-94.
  • Chakraborty S, Ji HY, Kabadi AM, Gersbach CA, Christoforou N, Leong KW*. A CRISPR/Cas9-Based System for Reprogramming Cell Lineage Specification. Stem Cell Reports (2014). 3(6):940-7.
  • Kulangara K, Adler AF, Wang H, Chellappan M, Hammett E, Yasuda R, Leong KW*. Effect of substrate topo-graphy on direct reprogramming of fibroblasts to induced neurons. Biomaterials, 35(20): p. 5327-36. (2014)
  • Lu M, Ho YP, Grigsby CL, Nawaz AA, Leong KW*, Huang TJ*. (2014) Three-dimensional hydrodynamic focusing method for polyplex synthesis. ACS Nano, 8(1): p. 332-9.
  • Chiu YL, Chan HF, Phua KK, Zhang Y, Juul S, Knudsen BR, Ho YP, Leong KW*. (2014) Synthesis of fluorosurfactants for emulsion-based biological applications. ACS Nano, 8(4): p. 3913-20.
  • Perez-Pinera P, Kocak DD, Vockley CM, Adler AF, Kabadi AM, Polstein LR, Thakore PI, Glass KA, Ousterout DG, Leong KW, Guilak F, Crawford GE, Reddy TE, and Gersbach CA*. RNA-guided gene activation by CRISPR-Cas9-based transcription factors. Nature Methods, 10(10): p. 973-6. (2013)
  • St John AL, Chan CY, Staats HF, Leong KW, and Abraham SN*, Synthetic mast-cell granules as adjuvants to promote and polarize immunity in lymph nodes. Nature Materials, 11(3): p. 250-7. (2012)
  • Oney S, Lam RT, Bompiani KM, Blake CM, Quick G, Heidel JD, Liu JY, Mack BC, Davis ME, Leong KW, and Sullenger BA*, Development of universal antidotes to control aptamer activity. Nature Medicine, 15(10): p. 1224-8. (2009)
  • Salem AK, Searson PC, and Leong KW*, Multifunctional nanorods for gene delivery. Nature Materials, 2(10): p. 668-71. (2003)
  • Roy K, Mao HQ, Huang SK, and Leong KW*, Oral gene delivery with chitosan--DNA nanoparticles generates immunologic protection in a murine model of peanut allergy. Nature Medicine, 5(4): p. 387-91. (1999)