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Faculty Detail    
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
Secondary  Microbiology  Microbiology Assistant Professor
Secondary  Ophthalmology  Ophthalmology 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, parasitology, molecular diagnostics, infectious disease histopathology, and trainee education. He serves on the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Microbiology Resource Committee and Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) fungal diagnostics and antifungal subcommittee 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, SARS-CoV-2, Mycology, and Effector Functions of Phagocytic Cells
Dr. Leal's translational research interests include the development of novel molecular diagnostic tests for infectious agents including invasive fungal infections, C. difficile, and SARS-CoV-2, and the evaluation of test performance and clinical utility of commercial diagnostic test systems. His lab provides diagnostic testing and microbiologic expertise for many local, regional, and international clinical trials enabling the advancement of new knowledge and therapeutic advancements in infectious diseases. Additional hypothesis driven research focuses on the pathophysiologic role of neutrophils in mediating invasive fungal and viral infection. Major avenues of investigation include: SARS-CoV-2 mediated neutrophil:platelet interactions, COVID-Associated Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CAPA), and the role of fungal melanin and calcium sigaling during neurotropic angionivasive mold infection. 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 hypothesis-driven bench research focused on neutrophil pathophysiology.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Wei, Q., Leal, S. M., Qarmali, M., Wilcox, C. M., Patel, C. R., & Al Diffalha, S. (2020). Sarcina ventriculi: A Rare Case of Life-Threatening Perforated Gastric Ulcer and Review of Literature. Journal of Gastric Surgery, 2(2), 53-56.   
Walker, J., Fleece, M.E., Griffin, R.L., Leal, S.M., Alsip, J.A., Stigler, W.S., Nafziger, S.D., Marrazzo, J.M. and Lee, R.A., 2020. Decreasing High Risk Exposures for Healthcare-workers through Universal Masking and Universal SARS-CoV-2 Testing upon entry to a Tertiary Care Facility. Clinical Infectious Diseases.   
Waites, K.B., Crabb, D.M., Xiao, L., Duffy, L.B. and Leal, S.M., 2020. In Vitro Activities of Eravacycline and Other Antimicrobial Agents Against Human Mycoplasmas and Ureaplasmas. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.   
Estevez-Ordonez, D., Laskay, N., Chagoya, G., Alam, Y., Atchley, T.J., Elsayed, G.A., Farr, G.A., Totten, A.H., Leal, S.M. and Fisher, W.S., 2020. Perioperative and critical care management of a patient with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 infection and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Neurosurgery.   
Leal, S.M., Totten, A.H., Xiao, L., Crabb, D.M., Ratliff, A., Duffy, L.B., Fowler, K.B., Mixon, E., Winchell, J.M., Diaz, M.H. and Benitez, A.J., 2020. Evaluation of Commercial Molecular Diagnostic Methods for Detection and Determination of Macrolide Resistance in Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 58(6).   
Higgins, A.B., Farmakiotis, D., Rogers, R., Osband, A.J., Seo, A., Chen, B., Birkenbach, M.P., Crabb, D., Xiao, L., Leal, S. and Waites, K., 2020. Hyperammonemia syndrome due to Ureaplasma urealyticum in a kidney transplant recipient: a case of disseminated disease from a fluoroquinolone‐resistant isolate. Transplant Infectious Disease, p.e13328.   
Richter, S.S., Otiso, J., Goje, O.J., Vogel, S., Aebly, J., Keller, G., Van Heule, H., Wehn, D., Stephens, A.L., Zanotti, S. and Johnson, T., Leal S.M., Procop, G.P. 2019. Prospective Evaluation of Molecular Assays for Diagnosis of Vaginitis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 58(1).   
Lehman, B., Leal Jr, S.M., Procop, G.W., O’Connell, E., Shaik, J., Nash, T.E., Nutman, T.B., Jones, S., Braunthal, S., Shah, S.N. and Cruise, M.W., 2019. Disseminated metacestode Versteria species infection in woman, Pennsylvania, USA. Emerging infectious diseases, 25(7), p.1429.   
de Jesus Carrion, S., Abbondante, S., Clark, H.L., Marshall, M.E., Mouyna, I., Beauvais, A., Sun, Y., Taylor, P.R., Leal Jr, S.M., Armstrong, B. and Carrera, W., 2019. Aspergillus fumigatus corneal infection is regulated by chitin synthases and by neutrophil–derived acidic mammalian chitinase. European journal of immunology, 49(6), pp.918-927.   
Totten, A.H., Leal, S.M., Ratliff, A.E., Xiao, L., Crabb, D.M. and Waites, K.B., 2019. Evaluation of the ELITe InGenius PCR platform for detection of Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Journal of clinical microbiology, 57(6).   
Alishlash, A.S., Atkinson, T.P., Schlappi, C., Leal, S.M., Waites, K.B. and Xiao, L., 2019. Mycoplasma pneumoniae carriage with de novo macrolide-resistance and breakthrough pneumonia. Pediatrics, 144(4), p.e20191642.   
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, SARS-CoV-2, COVIDfungi, mold, mollicutes