Arthritis, Molecular & Cell Biology, Rheumatology, Wound Healing
Dr. Andrew Leask has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario since January 2005. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of British Columbia in 1986, and his PhD in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Chicago in 1992. Dr. Leask conducted Postdoctoral studies in Biological Sciences at Stanford University in California.
Dr. Leask was recruited by George Martin to be Staff Scientist at FibroGen, a start-up biotech company in the San Francisco Bay Area which worked on fibrosis. It quickly became obvious to Dr. Leask that there was not sufficient knowledge about how fibrosis developed, and that this was a key prerequisite to developing anti-fibrotic drugs. At about the same time, collaborators of FibroGen (Carol Black and David Abraham) working at the Royal Free Hospital in London, UK were working from a more clinical perspective on scleroderma, in which patients die due to lung fibrosis. Dr. Leask then began to use scleroderma as a model disease system looking at skin and lung fibrosis. Through this, Dr. Leask endeavours to understand why fibrosis occurs with the long-term aim of suggesting strategies to block it.
Dr. Leask's approach has allowed a look at the big picture of what might be going on in patients, rather than being obsessed with one idea. Overall, he is interested in examining at how cells (fibroblasts) in the lung interact with their surroundings (the extracellular matrix) and how this affects their responses to fibrogenic proteins. He has published over 32 manuscripts in the past 5 years.
Dr. Leask is a member of several professional societies including the American Society of Cell Biology and the International CCN Society. He is also on the editorial board of several journals, and a member of several grant review panels. Dr. Leask is also an award recipient, having received the fifth OTS Breathe New Life Award at the Better Breathing 2010 Conference. He also enjoys traveling and the arts. He collects Native American art from the Southwest and Pacific Northwest.