Department of Cellular and Structural Biology

CSB Faculty


Robin J. Leach, Ph.D.



University of Utah, 1984


MED 552C
(210) 567-6947


Dr. Leach is a molecular geneticists who works on complex diseases. In addition, she is the course director for the Graduate Colloquium, as well as an instructor in the Genes and Development course. She is a past recipient of the Dean's Award for "Exceptional Graduate Teaching" and the "Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching". In addition, she is a "Master Teacher" at UTHSCSA and a "Distinguished Teaching Professor" awarded by the University of Texas Board of Regents. Dr. Leach is currently a co-leader of the Genetics, Genomic and Development graduate training track. She is also the Co-Director of the Genomics Resource Core and the Director of Research for the Department of Urology. She has over 130 peer-reviewed publications and is a member of the Cancer Genetic Study Section for the National Institutes of Health.


Using a molecular genetic approach, she studies a number of diseases including prostate and testicular cancers, diabetes, schizophrenia and Paget's disease of the bone. The genetic studies have used both molecular techniques and epidemiological approaches. These studies are conducted with numerous collaborators from the health science center as well as other institution.


In addition, her laboratory has been involved in identify novel cancer biomarkers primarily for prostate cancer. Dr. Leach works closely with Dr. Ian Thompson. Dr. Thompson is the chair of the Department of Urology and is also the cancer center director. Drs. Thompson and Leach have been part of the Early Detection Research Network from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Thompson currently has a large cohort study which involves screening men for prostate cancer in the San Antonio area. Dr. Leach has directed several research studies on this population.


Dr. Leach also works closely with Dr. Teresa Johnson-Pais who using genomic techniques to identify genetic changes in prostate tumors. They have identified specific regions of the cancer genome which are altered and house putative tumor suppressor genes and/or oncogenes. Once genes are identified from these regions of loss and gain, they use cell biology approaches to manipulate the expression of these genes in established cell lines.


Paraffin embedded prostate specimen hybridized with a bacterial artificial chromosome that appeared to be deleted by comparative genomic hybridization.
Closest picture is the normal adjacent prostate cells and the picture on the right is the prostate tumor. The tumor has a homozygous deletion of a region of chromosome 18.


Dr. Leach collaborates with Dr. Donna Lehman primarily on the genetic of diabetes and related phenotypes. They have recently expanded these studies to assess copy number variants in both diabetes and prostate cancer.


Dr. Leach continues to work with Drs. Michael Escamilla and Consuelo Walss-Bass on the genetic of schizophrenia. They currently have a training grant from the Fogarty Foundation at the NIH which provides resources for training foreign physicians and scientist in psychiatric genetics. Dr. Leach is the director of the basic research training for this program.


Research Techniques:
Molecular Genetic Methods including Genotyping, Sequencing, Gene Expression Analysis.

Somatic Cell Techniques including Cell Hybridization and Micro-mediated Chromosome Transfer.


Liang Y, Ankerst DP, Sanchez M, Leach RJ, Thompson IM. (2010) Body Mass Index Adjusted Prostate-specific Antigen and Its Application for Prostate Cancer Screening. Urology. 2010 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print]


Beuten J, Gelfond JA, Franke JL, Shook S, Johnson-Pais TL, Thompson IM, Leach RJ. (2010) Single and multivariate associations of MSR1, ELAC2, and RNASEL with prostate cancer in an ethnic diverse cohort of men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Feb;19(2):588-99.


Beuten J, Gelfond JA, Martinez-Fierro ML, Weldon KS, Crandall AC, Rojas-Martinez A, Thompson IM, Leach RJ. (2009) Association of chromosome 8q variants with prostate cancer risk in Caucasian and Hispanic men. Carcinogenesis. 2009 Aug;30(8):1372-9.


Beuten J, Gelfond JA, Franke JL, Weldon KS, Crandall AC, Johnson-Pais TL, Thompson IM, Leach RJ. (2009) Single and multigenic analysis of the association between variants in 12 steroid hormone metabolism genes and risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Jun;18(6):1869-80.


Merchant A, Smielewska M, Patel N, Akunowicz JD, Saria EA, Delaney JD, Leach RJ, Seton M, Hansen MF. (2009) Somatic mutations in SQSTM1 detected in affected tissues from patients with sporadic Paget's disease of bone. J Bone Miner Res. 2009 Mar;24(3):484-94.