Dr Lesley Cheng

21st century scientist decoding the hidden information circulating in our blood

As a young student, Lesley Cheng excelled across many fields including Arts, Business, Engineering, Technology and Science but was told to focus on one. While she remained active in all areas, academically she went down the Science path and completed a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Today she combines all of these fields to provide answers and tools to 21st century health problems. Combining these with being creative, curious, collaborative and a good communicator, she has become a 21st century scientist.

Lesley’s work at La Trobe University’s Institute for Molecular Science involves developing a blood test for the early detection of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. She uses basic science, automation, Next-Generation technologies and big data to profile the hidden genetic material found in small biological vesicles called ‘exosomes’ that travel in the bloodstream. These exosomes act as the body’s ‘internal postal system’, delivering messages from one site to a distant site. Capturing them in transit allows the ability to monitor one’s health but their applications are not limited to disease diagnosis and may be used to understand healthy ageing, develop new therapies and improve health.

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