Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine  Back to Main

Faculty Detail    
Director, Clinical Microbiology, Fungal Reference Laboratory
Mycoplasma Laboratory
Campus Address WT W287 Zip 6508
Other websites

Undergraduate  Florida International University    2006  B.S. Biological Sciences, minor in Chemistry 
Graduate  Case Western Reserve University     2012  Ph.D. 
Medical School  Case Western Reserve University    2014  M.D. 
Residency  University of North Carolina    2017  Board Certification- Pathology 
Fellowship  Cleveland Clinic Foundation    2018  Board Certification- Medical Microbiology 

American Board of Pathology- Clinical Pathology  2017 
American Board of Pathology- Medical Microbiology  2018 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Pathology   Laboratory Medicine Assistant Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Ctr for Clinical & Translational Sci Assistant Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
Dr.Leal has a broad background in microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, and medicine with residency training in pathology and subspecialty fellowship training in medical microbiology. He received his MD/PhD training in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)at Case Western Reserve University, pathology residency training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and Microbiology fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic. He is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Clinical Pathology and Medical Microbiology and has a special clinical interest in medical mycology, mycoplasmology, parasitology, molecular diagnostics, infectious disease histopathology, and trainee education. He teaches a course on the identification of microorganisms in histopathology specimens at the annual American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting, has served on the College of American Pathologists (CAP) clinical pathology education committee, and is a voting member on the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) fungal diagnostics and antifungal subcommitee working groups. His translational and basic science research interests are described further below.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
MSG ERC     

Research/Clinical Interest
Infectious Disease Diagnostics, Drug Discovery, and Effector Functions of Phagocytic Cells
The translational component of the Leal lab focuses on the development of novel molecular diagnostic tests for infectious agents and high throughput biological assays for identification of novel antimicrobial/anti-inflammatory compounds. Areas of interest include C. difficile, yeasts, molds, and mollicutes including highly resistant organisms like Candida auris and Mycoplasma genitalium. Industry based studies involve evaluation of novel antimicrobial compounds and the clinical performance of commercial diagnostic assays particularly for fungi and mollicutes. The lab serves as a reference center for many ongoing clinical trials in medical mycology (Mycoses Study Group) and mollicute infections and collaborates closely with infectious disease clinicians evaluating the clinical efficacy of antimicrobrial compounds. Additional hypothesis driven basic science research in the laboratory focuses on the mechanisms by which neutrophils kill various organisms. The lab utilizes a combination of neutrophil-like cell lines, direct specimens, murine neutrophils, and mouse models to answer various questions on how organisms are recognized, effector functions activated, and kinetics of microbial killing altered under various pathophysiologic states. Opportunities in the Leal lab are diverse and include the performance of clinical diagnostic testing, participation in clinical trials, development of novel diagnostic tests, evaluation of commercial diagnostic assays, drug discovery, and basic bench research studies focused on how neutrophils kill microorganisms.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Leal Jr. SM, Popowitch EB, Levinson KJ, John TM, Lehman B, Rios MB, and Miller MB. Quantitative thresholds enable accurate identification of Clostridium difficile infection by the Luminex xTAG GI pathogen panel. Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2018): JCM-01885. 04/2018   29643194 
Leal Jr. SM, Jones M, and Gilligan PH. The clinical significance of commensal gram-positive rods routinely isolated from clinical samples. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 54.12 (2016): 2928-2936. 09/2016  27629905 
Leal Jr. SM, Roy S, Vareechon C, Carrion SDJ, Clark H, Lopez-Berges MS, Pietro A, Schrettl M, Beckmann N, Redl B, Haas H, and Pearlman E. Targeting iron sequestration blocks infection with the fungal pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus and Fusarium oxysporum. PLoS Pathogens. 07/2013. 9(7): e1003436. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003436   23853581 
Leal Jr. SM, Vareechon C, Cowden S, Cobb BA, Latge JP, Momany M, Pearlman E. Fungal antioxidant pathways promote survival against neutrophils during infection. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 07/2012. 122(7):2482–2498 doi:10.1172/JCI63239   22706306 
Leal Jr. SM, Hastings S, Hsia YC, Ghannoum M, Momany M, and Pearlman E. Distinct roles for Dectin- 1 and TLR4 in the pathogenesis of Aspergillus fumigatus keratitis. PLoS Pathogens. 07/2010; 6(7): e1000976. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000976  20617171 
Dietl AM, Amich J, Leal Jr. SM, Beckmann N, Binder U, Beilhack A, Pearlman E, Haas H. Histidine biosynthesis plays a crucial role in metal homeostasis and virulence of Aspergillus fumigatus.Virulence. 03/2016 7.4: 465-476
26854126 7 
Taylor PR, Leal Jr. SM, Sun Y, and Pearlman E. Aspergillus and Fusarium corneal infections are regulated by Th17 cells and IL-17 producing neutrophils. Journal of Immunology. 04/2014. 192(7):3319-27  24591369  
Taylor PR, Roy S, Leal Jr. SM, Sun Y, Howell SJ, Cobb BA, Li X, and Pearlman E. Activation of
neutrophils by autocrine IL-17A-IL-17RC interactions during fungal infection is regulated by IL-6, IL-23, RORγT, and Dectin-2. Nature Immunology. 02/2014. 15(2):143-51
Ryan SO, Leal Jr. SM, Abbott DW, Pearlman E, Cobb BA. Mgat2 ablation in the myeloid lineage leads to defective glycoantigen T cell responses. Journal of Immunology.03/2014. 24(3):262-71.   24310166  
Carrion SDJ, Leal Jr. SM, Amanianda V, Latge JP, Ghannoum M, and Pearlman E.. RodA hydrophobin on Aspergillus and Fusarium conidia masks Dectin-1 and Dectin-2 responses and enhances fungal survival. 08/2013 Journal of Immunology   23926321 
Karthikeyan RS, Priya JL, Leal Jr. SM, Prajna V, Toska J, Dharmalingam K, Rietsch A, Pearlman E, and Prajna L . Host response gene and bacterial virulence factor expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pneumoniae corneal ulcers. PLoS One. 06/2013;8(6): e64867. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0064867  23750216  
Karthikeyan RS, Leal Jr. SM, Prajna V, Dharmalingam K, Geiser DM, Pearlman E, and Prajna L.
Expression of innate and adaptive immune mediators in human corneal tissue infected with Aspergillus or Fusarium. Journal of Infectious Disease. 08/2011; 204(6): 942-950
Balasubramanian D, Kong KF, Jayawardena S, Leal Jr. SM, Sautter RT, and Mathee K. Coregulation of antibiotic resistance, alginate production, and quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Journal of Medical Microbiology. 02/2011;60 (Pt 2):147-56   20965918 
Adonizio A, Leal Jr. SM, Ausubel F, and Mathee K. Attenuation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence by medicinal plants in a Caenorhabditis elegans model system. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 07/2008; 57 (7):809-813   18566137 
Leal Jr. SM. Human Papillomavirus: Your role in preventing, detecting, and treating HPV+ carcinomas. College of American Pathologists (CAP) Clinical Pathology Improvement Program (CPIP) Continuing Medical Education online tutorial. Case 7: Microbiology. 07/2018;   
Leal Jr. SM. Zika Virus: Diagnostic Considerations for Emerging Pandemic Threats. College of American Pathologists (CAP) Clinical Pathology Improvement Program (CPIP) Continuing Medical Education online tutorial. Case 12: Microbiology. CPIP1212Q.2017. 12/2017;   
Leal Jr. SM and Gulley ML. Current and Emerging Molecular Tests for Human Papillomavirus–Related Neoplasia in the Genomic Era. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. 05/2017. Volume 19, Issue 3, 366-377  28325688 
Johnson MG, Leal Jr. SM, Plongla R, Leone PA, Gilligan PH. The Brief Case: Recurrent Granulomatous Mastitis Due to Corynebacterium kroppenstedtii. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 08/2016 1;54(8):1938-41  27458268 
Johnson MG, Leal Jr. SM, Plongla R, Leone PA, Gilligan PH. Closing the Brief Case: Recurrent Granulomatous Mastitis Due to Corynebacterium kroppenstedtii. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2016 Aug 1;54 (8):2212  27458276 
Leal Jr. SM, Pearlman E. The role of cytokines and pathogen recognition molecules in fungal keratitis- Insights from human disease and animal models. Cytokine. 1/2012; 2011.12.022  22280957 
Pearlman E, Leal Jr. SM, Tarabishy A, Sun Y, Szczotka-Flynn L, Imamura Y, Mukherjee P, Chandra J, Hastings S, Momany M and Ghannoum M. Pathogenesis of fungal keratitis. Encyclopedia of the Eye 2010; Chapter 22. pg 268-272, Academic Press ISBN:9780123741981.    

Clinical Microbiology, Medical Microbiology, Molecular Diagnostics, Microbiology, Neutrophils, PMNs, fungi, mold, mollicutes