Career History: Ruey Leng has a background in clinical pharmacy and has extensive clinical experience working as a pharmacist at various UK National Health Services having completed a Bachelor in Pharmacy (Hons) from Bradford University, and an MSc in Clinical Pharmacy from Cardiff University. After graduating as a PhD in metabolic phenotyping from Imperial College London, she took up a postdoctoral position at Imperial College. She was appointed as a Clinical Lecturer in Pharmacy at the University of Kent, UK and was promoted to a Senior Lecturer before moving to Murdoch University in 2019 having secured a Premier’s Early to Mid-Career (EMC) Fellowship from the Western Australia (WA) Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
Ruey Leng has focussed on the application of metabolic phenotyping in epidemiological and dietary intervention studies. In parallel, she has also applied data analytics for metabolic phenotyping in food. Her research goals involves developing novel strategies for optimizing personalized human health and provides a translational bridge to the food science industry. Ongoing research interests include:
- Development of ‘metabolome-wide association study’ (MWAS) approaches to molecular epidemiology and clinical nutrition paradigms.
The Metabolome-Wide Association Study (MWAS) concept is analogous to that of the genome wide association study (GWAS) but focused on the metabolic phenotype of individuals. So far, Ruey Leng has applied MWAS approaches to population and dietary intervention studies. Her work showed large country to country, within populations as well as between individual variations in various clinical risk factors e.g. blood pressure, in response to different type of dietary intake. The MWAS thus approach provides a framework for stratification of individual disease risk. More recently, she also applied this approach for COVID-19 infection.
Holmes E, Loo RL, et al. Human metabolic phenotype diversity and its association with diet and blood pressure. Nature. 2008 May 15;453(7193):396-400.
Loo RL, Zou X, et al. Characterization of metabolic responses to healthy diets and association with blood pressure: application to the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart), a randomized controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Mar 1;107(3):323-334.
- Application of metabolic phenotyping approaches for food science
Ruey Leng aims to develop new methods using state-of-the-art analytical capability available at the ANPC for providing detailed molecular information on food/food products. Working with industry partners such as Bruker BioSpin and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), she will assess the effects of growth and storage conditions on the quality of foods and assess different processing and cooking methods on the nutritional values of food/food products. This food phenotyping framework will enable industry partners to monitor and verify food quality, underpin the commercialization of high value nutraceutical food products from WA and offer a translational bridge to the food science industry (e.g. composition, quality, contamination, authenticity and nutritional efficacy).
Ruey Leng is currently recruiting two post-doctoral positions for this project.
- Development of data analysis frameworks for effective translational science
The application of appropriate chemometric strategies to interrogate datasets from human studies is critical for enhanced biomarker extraction. Ruey Leng’s research work therefore involves the development of data analysis strategies to improve the characterisation of human metabolic phenotypes for extracting detailed information from complex biological datasets circumventing the limitations of traditional approaches. Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Julien Wist and Elaine Holmes, she has developed an interactive data analysis pipeline (open source) for providing population statistics for selected metabolites and conditions including identification of underlying features arising from drug intake, latent diseases and diet.
Loo RL, Chan Q, et al. Strategy for improved characterisation of human metabolic phenotypes using a COmbined Multiblock Principal components Analysis with Statistical Spectroscopy (COMPASS). Bioinformatics. 2020 Jul 21:btaa649.
Zou X, Holmes E, Nicholson JK, Loo RL. Statistical HOmogeneous Cluster SpectroscopY (SHOCSY): an optimized statistical approach for clustering of ¹H NMR spectral data to reduce interference and enhance robust biomarkers selection. Anal Chem. 2014 Jun 3;86(11):5308-15.
Ruey Leng has previously applied metabolic phenotyping approach for enhancing the understanding on drug metabolism, for monitoring medication intake and for validating the self-reported medication data. She aims to scale and translate this approach for monitoring dietary intervention studies.
Holmes E, Loo RL, et al. Detection of urinary drug metabolite (xenometabolome) signatures in molecular epidemiology studies via statistical total correlation (NMR) spectroscopy. Anal Chem. 2007 Apr 1;79(7):2629-40.
Loo RL, Chan Q, et al. A comparison of self-reported analgesic use and detection of urinary ibuprofen and acetaminophen metabolites by means of metabonomics: the INTERMAP Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Feb 15;175(4):348-58.
- Development of novel analytical methods for optimizing metabolic phenotyping approaches
Ruey Leng has developed a number of metabolic phenotyping approaches using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). The approach was faster than the current gold standard e.g. for the analysis of amino acids by gas chromatography methods. More recently, she also used the UPLC-MS approach for analysis of dried blood spots. She is currently developing analytical capabilities for wider scale adoption.
J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2020 Jul 24.
Joyce R, Kuziene V, Zou X, Wang X, Pullen F, Loo RL. Development and validation of an ultra-performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry method for rapid quantification of free amino acids in human urine. Amino Acids. 2016 Jan;48(1):219-34.
Ruey Leng has attracted >AUD 6m of research income so far. Her current research is funded by the state, external and internal grants.
- Premier’s Early to Mid-Career Fellowship, Government of Western Australia, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, 2019 -2022 (Chief Investigator);
- Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre, 2021 -2024 (Chief Investigator);
- Covid Response Grant Government of Western Australia, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, 2020 -2021 (Co-Investigator);
- Spinnaker Health Research Foundation, 2020 -2021 (Co-Investigator);
- McCuskey Charitable Trust, 2020 (Co-Investigator);
- Channel 7 Telethon Trust, 2020-2021(Co-Investigator);
- Research & Innovation Strategic PhD Scholarship, Murdoch University, 2021 -2024 (1 x Chief Investigator, 1 x Co-Investigator).
- National Institute of Health Investigator Grant, 2017 -2021 (Co-Investigator)
She was previously awarded a New Investigator Grant, Medical Research Council (UK), a Chinese Academic of Science President’s International Fellowship Initiative, Kent Science Research Fund and various internal grants.