Trinity Western University

Faculty Directory

Ka Yin Leung, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology, Dean, Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences

  • Biography

    Dr. Leung received his BSA (Hons) and MSc at the University of Saskatchewan, and PhD at the University of Guelph. Prior to coming to TWU in 2008 to become the Dean of Science, Dr. Leung was the Chair of Space and Infrastructure Committee of the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS), at the National University of Singapore (NUS) (2007-08), Deputy Head of DBS, NUS (2004-06), the Assistant Dean (2002-03) in the Faculty of Science, NUS, and the Associate Director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute, NUS (TMSI, 2001-03).

  • Education

    B.S.A. (Hons.), University of Saskatchewan, 1980
    M. Sc., University of Saskatchewan, 1982
    Ph. D., University of Guelph, 1987

  • Recent Publications

    Ka Yin Leung, Anthony Siame, Byron Tenkink, Rebecca Noort & Yu-Keung Mok. 2012. Edwardsiella tarda: virulence mechanisms of an emerging gastroenteritis pathogen. Microbe and Infection 14:26-34.

    S. Chakraborty, J. Sivaraman, K.Y. Leung & Y.K. Mok. 2011. Two-component PhoB-PhoR regulatory system and ferric uptake regulator sense phosphate and iron to control virulence genes in type III and VI secretion systems of Edwardsiella tarda. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286:39417-39430.

    Ka Yin Leung, Anthony Siame, Heather Snowball & Yu-Keung Mok. 2011. Type VI secretion regulation: crosstalk and intracellular communication. Current Opinion in Microbiology 14:9-15.

    Hai Xia Xie, Hong Bing Yu, Jun Zheng, Pin Nie, Leonard J. Foster, Yu-Keung Mok, B.B. Finlay & K.Y. Leung. 2010. EseG, an effector of the type III secretion system of Edwardsiella tarda triggers microtubule destabilization. Infection and Immunity 78:5011-5021.

    Jun Zheng & Ka Yin Leung. 2007. Dissection of a type VI secretion system (T6SS) in Edwardsiella tarda. Molecular Microbiology 66 :1192-1206.

  • Courses Taught at TWU

    Medical Microbiology (BIOL 333)
    Genes and Society (BIOL 101)
    Introduction to Biology II (BIOL 104)

  • Awards & Honours


    1994       National Science and Technology Board Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Zoology, National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore

    1989       Health Research Personnel Development Program Fellowship, Ministry of Health, ON, Canada (declined)

    1982-83  Entrance Scholarship, College of Graduate Studies, University of Guelph, ON, Canada

    1982       Saskatchewan Agricultural Research Foundation Scholarship, University of Saskatchewan, SK, Canada

    1980-82  Scholarship from the College of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Saskatchewan, SK, Canada

    1979-80  Honors Scholarship from the College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, SK, Canada



    1.  RP950359, Academic Research Fund (ARF), NUS, Singapore (S$143,400, 1/1996-1/1998): Strategy of to enter and multiply inside cultured fish cells.

    2.  RP960370, ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$140,100, 1/1997-1/2000): Pathogenic mechanisms of and infections in warm water fish.

    3.  RP972372, ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$144,784, 1/1998-12/2000): Identifying virulent genes and tracking the entry of a fish pathogen,

    4.  RP3992326, ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$85,000, 12/1999-11/2002): Identification, characterization, and biotechnology applications of virulence genes from a common fish pathogen -

    5.  RP3992360, ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$145,300, 4/2000-3/2003): Genomic studies of an economically important fish pathogen,

    6.  Allocation of Life Science Equipment Fund, NUS, Singapore (S$460,000, 11/2000 to 1/2001): Upgrading proteomics facility.

    7.  RP01/1/21/19/134, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) Fund, Singapore (S$888,690, 5/2002-6/2006): Genomics and proteomics approaches for the characterization of virulence gene clusters in

    8.  R154-000-158-112, ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$120,000, 7/2002-12/2005): Proteomics and genomics approaches for the characterization of virulence gene clusters in enterohaemorrhagic

    9.  R154-000-154-720, Lee Hiok Kwee Donation Fund, Singapore (S$250,000, 6/2002-5/2008): Use of genomics, proteomics, and protein chip technology to study economically important fish pathogens.

    10. R154-000-224-112,ARF, NUS, Singapore (S$140,000, 9/2004-8/2007): Characterization of regulators and effectors of novel protein secretion systems in . This was a collaborative grant between NUS and University of British Columbia, Canada.

    11. R154-000-241-305, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) Fund, Singapore (S$905,300, 2/2005-7/2008): Studies of bacterial secretion systems as targets for novel antimicrobials.

    12. R154-000-286-305, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) Fund, Singapore (S$340,000, 4/2006-3/2008): Bacterial virulence factors – function, regulation, variation and interaction with host. This was a collaborative grant between A*STAR, NUS and the University of California, San Diego, USA.

    13. R-154-000-368-305, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) Fund, Singapore (S$818,760, 4/2008-3/2011): Studies of a novel secretion system (T6SS) of and and therapeutics applications to disarm pathogens.In 2008, I relocated my laboratory from Singapore to Vancouver and I transferred the grant to my co-investigator, Mok Yu-Keung.

    14. Industrial Canada Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP), the Government of Canada (CDN$1,655,000, 9/2009-10/2011): Neufeld Science Centre Expansion: Construction of Research Laboratories for Biology, Chemistry and Nursing.

    15. Start-up fund from TWU (CDN$70,000, 9/2008-12/2012): Studies of secretion systems in and

    16. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (CDN$120,000 for 3 years, 4/2010-3/2013): Studies on the regulation and effector functions of a type VI secretion system in

    17. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, USA (US$500,000, 6/2010-10/2011): Neufeld Science Centre Expansion matching fund.

    18. Open Funding Project of the State Key Laboratory of Bioreactor Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology, China (RMB$80,000, 6/2013-5/2015): Identifying and characterizing effectors of a type III secretion system (T3SS) in using a genome wide-approach.



    1.  LS/99/007, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) Fund, Singapore (S$1,461,289 is the total value and my share is about S$250,000, 1/2001-2/2004): Establishment of a Laboratory of Excellence in Aquatic and Marine Biotechnology (LEAMB).

    2.  RP01/1/21/17/046, BMRC Fund, Singapore (S$1,076,500, 7/2002-6/2007): Proteomics of airway inflammation: identification of pathogenic molecules and therapeutic targets.

    3.   Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), China (RMB$300,000, 1/2010-12/2012):
    Pathogenic mechanism of Type III and type VI secretion system in .

    4.   31172442, Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), China (RMB$560,000, 1/2012-12/2015): Molecular pathogenesis of native pEI1, pEI2.

  • Area of Research

    Gram-negative pathogens export effector proteins to the exterior surroundings, host cells, and even to other bacteria through a variety of secretion systems (to date types I to VI are known). Proteins secreted by these systems are critical to understanding microbe-environment, microbe-host, and microbe-microbe interactions. is a common and important pathogen of freshwater and marine fish due to its versatility in water environments. My laboratory is a leader in the study of biology and bacterial secretion systems in general. We were the first group to report type III and type VI secretion systems (T3SS and T6SS) in and have shown that they are the most important virulence mechanisms of this organism. Thus, we position as an ideal model system for studying the secreted proteins of fish pathogens. We have established a fish host, blue gourami, for infection studies where LD50 values are one to three logs different between bacterial mutants and wild type . We have also accumulated important data on the genetic organization, regulatory pathways, systematic mutations, and characteristics of a few effector proteins of T3SS in . It is estimated that around 30 effectors are translocated through a T3SS and a T6SS and they are believed to be the key factors dictating microbe-host interactions.

    My research program is currently focused on identifying and characterizing T3 and T6 effectors. The information gained through this work will lead us to a greater understanding of the functions of effectors at molecular, cellular and organismal levels as well as their individual and concerted functions in the pathogenesis. The knowledge generated will produce biotechnological applications that can be applied to the global aquaculture industry. 

Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences

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