Dr. Fred Leung
Professor Emeritus, University of Western Ontario
Noted Academic, Researcher, Biochemist and Teacher
Inducted November 30, 2007
The Leung’s were merchants, not scientists. Born in 1939 into a family of nine children, Fred took a different route from working the family store in Cumberland, BC. Leung credits his High School Math Teacher, Bill Turner for fostering an interest in science.
Bill taught Fred chemistry, physics and math, providing him the foundation for his future academic successes. He instilled that same interest with his students in the growing field of biochemistry and impressed upon them to aspire to reach their academic dreams. “A lot op people, regardless of where they come from, do make it in their field of interest – people should know there are no limitations.” Said Leung.
After High School Fred Leung graduated in 1962 from the UBC Pharmacy Program and received his Masters Degree in Pharmacy. Mr. Leung also received the Horner Gold Medal for the top standing in his class. He then engaged in graduate studies in biochemistry under Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith and Drs. S.H. Zbarsky, and W.J. Polglase. He also took courses in genetics under Dr. David Suzuki.
Following graduation he worked as a clinical chemist at Vancouver General Hospital, developing analytical methods for testing several hormones. In 1973 he accepted a position as an assistant professor of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario as well as the Clinical Biologist at the London, Ontario University Hospital. In 1987 he was appointed a full Professor in the Biochemistry Department.
His academic career included teaching, research and clinical work. He has published 125 articles, has had seven chapters included in academic books and has written for 66 journals in the field of biochemistry about nucleic acids, endocrinology, enzymes and trace elements. Much of his research was focused on post-surgery intravenous nutrition to be sure that the levels of trace elements are corrected.
During his distinguished career working in the field of trace element analysis he developed the “Leung Technique”, which accurately measures and detects very low exposure to toxic metals. That research has been used in a wide variety of applications. The ability to measure chromium, cobalt and titanium in hip prostheses led to less toxic implants.
Leung’s research team was also involved in studies of Cape Breton children exposed to toxic metals from the Sydney Tar Ponds, created by industrial waste from almost 100 years of steelmaking.
He has also worked with law enforcement to help solve cases and has testified in court as an expert witness with respect to the analysis of toxic elements that can be used to help determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
In 2002, The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons honoured Dr. Leung with the John Charnley Award. When Professor Leung retired in 2004 he was granted the distinction Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario.
Speaking at his Walk of Achievement induction Professor Leung noted, “This is one of my biggest honours. The most meaningful thing is, being from a small community (Cumberland), to be recognized for some of the career goals that I met. It makes me proud to be part of the Comox Valley.”
He now lives with his wife of 50+ years in New Westminister, BC. The Leungs have five children and seven grandchildren.