Dr Leon G Leanse, PhD

Dr Leon G Leanse, PhD Image

University of Gibraltar:

Senior Research Associate, Research Programme Coordinator
Health & Sport Sciences


Dr Leanse was born and raised in Gibraltar in 1988, where he received his formative education prior to attending University. In 2017, he received his PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Imperial College London. Following his graduation, he was appointed as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School (HMS), working through the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. In late 2021, in recognition of his accomplishments, he was promoted to the Harvard faculty. Alongside his University of Gibraltar appointment, He is currently appointed (part-time) as a researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, USA, where he works to provide ongoing scientific consultation for the Dai Laboratory.

Degree(s) - Awarding Institutions and Year

BSc Biomedical Sciences, University of Westminster, UK (2012)
MSc Medical Microbiology, London school of hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (2013)
PhD Molecular Microbiology, Imperial College London, UK (2017)

Research Background

To date, Dr Leanse has published 21 peer-reviewed scientific articles in reputable journals, including JCI insight, Journal of infectious diseases, Advanced Science, Lancet Infectious Diseases, etc. His research works have been cited >650 times since 2017 (google scholar data; h-index – 11), with >300 citations per year (as of 2022). He has presented his research worldwide at numerous conferences and is currently appointed as a committee member of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) conference ‘Photonic Diagnosis,Monitoring, Prevention, and Treatment of Infections and Inflammatory Diseases’.

In conjunction with being a prolific peer reviewer for >14 scientific journals, Dr Leanse is an Associate Editor at the Journal ‘Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery’ and serves as a Guest Associate Editor at Frontiers in Microbiology.

He has also been successful in attaining funding for research projects, having received, to date, $190,000 of funding, which has helped support his independent research efforts while at Harvard Medical School.

Research Interests

Dr Leanse’s research interests stem from his goal to lessen the negative impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on public health. Specifically, he is concerned with developing non-traditional antimicrobial approaches that effectively treat infectious diseases, without the threat of resistance development.

He is currently utilizing biophotonics approaches (i.e., light applied to biological systems) for the treatment of antibiotic resistant (or ‘superbug’) infections. He is especially interested in investigating light-antimicrobial interactions to ‘re-sensitize’ antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ to conventional antibiotics. His interests also involve developing novel optical waveguides (e.g., light emitting microneedles that can deliver light interstitially) to treat more complicated infections.

He is also attentive to how AMR may be impacting Gibraltar. Therefore, his interests also concern performing an analysis of the current state of AMR in Gibraltar. In particular, he hopes to help develop antimicrobial stewardship mechanisms targeted at reducing the negative impact of AMR on both public health and the Gibraltarian economy.

Teaching Experience

For over 9 years, Dr Leanse has been actively involved with the supervision and mentorship of junior scientists. Specifically, he routinely trains and mentors undergraduate/graduate students (MSc and PhD levels), and postdoctoral fellows.

He has, in addition, been invited to deliver virtual lectures targeted at students within the USA, Brazil, and China.

Selected Publications

Leanse LG, Harrington OD, Fang Y, Ahmed I, Goh X and Dai T. Evaluating the Potential for Resistance Development to Antimicrobial Blue Light (at 405 nm) in Gram-Negative Bacteria: In vitro and in vivo Studies. Front. Microbiol. 2018. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02403.

Leanse LG, Dong PT, Goh XS, Lu M, Cheng JX, Hooper DC, Dai T. (2019). Quinine Enhances Photo-Killing of Gram-Negative Bacteria. J Infect Dis. 2019. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz487

Leanse LG, Goh XS, Dai T. Quinine Improves the Fungicidal Effects of Antimicrobial Blue Light: Implications for the Treatment of Cutaneous Candidiasis. Lasers Surg Med. 2019. doi: 10.1002/lsm.23180

Leanse LG, Goh XS, Cheng JX, Hooper DC, Dai T. Dual-wavelength photo-killing of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. JCI Insight. 2020. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.134343

Leanse, L.G., Zeng, X., Dai, T. Potentiated antimicrobial blue light killing of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus by pyocyanin. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2021.

Leanse LG, dos Anjos, C, Besegato, JF, Dai, T, Rastelli, ANS. Laser Phys Lett. Shedding UVC light on Covid-19 to protect dentistry staff and patients. 2021; 18(8).

Leanse LG, Dos Anjos C, Mushtaq S, Dai T. Antimicrobial blue light: A ‘Magic Bullet’ for the 21st century and beyond? Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2022 01;180:114057. PMID: 34800566.

Dong PT, Mohammad H, Hui J, Leanse LG, Li J, Liang L, Dai T, Seleem MN, Cheng JX. Photolysis of Staphyloxanthin in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Potentiates Killing by Reactive Oxygen Species. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2020. doi: 510.1002/advs.201900030.

He S, Leanse, LG, Feng, Y. Artificial intelligence and machine learning assisted drug delivery for effective treatment of infectious diseases. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2021

Magana M, Pushpanathan M, Santos AL, Leanse L, Fernandez M, Ioannidis A, Giulianotti MA, Apidianakis Y, Bradfute S, Ferguson AL, Cherkasov A, Seleem MN, Pinilla C, de la Fuente-Nunez C, Lazaridis T, Dai T, Houghten RA, Hancock REW, Tegos GP (2020). The value of antimicrobial peptides in the age of resistance. Lancet Infect Dis. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30327-3