Image of Lorna de Leoz
Spotlight Story

Lorna de Leoz
Developing rapid, noninvasive diagnostic tests to monitor diseases in children

(UPDATED OCTOBER 2013): Lorna de Leoz is currently employed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Mass Spectrometry Data Center.

Lorna has a Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis, a Master of Science in chemistry and Bachelor of Science degrees in computer engineering and chemistry, all earned at Ateneo de Manila University. Lorna is a Food and Health Entrepreneurship Academy and Business Development Fellow alumna. The following Q & A took place in 2011.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it? 

My research focuses on using mass spectrometry for health and nutrition research. I am particularly interested in discovering oligosaccharide biomarkers for diseases such as cancer and necrotizing enterocolitis.    

What are you most passionate about in your work? 

I have always been fascinated by what chemistry can do in other fields of science, especially medicine. When I was little, I dreamed of being a doctor of medicine and curing people free of charge. My interest shifted to chemistry, but the call to help is still there. I may never be a doctor of medicine, but I still want to make a difference through my research on biomarker discovery.    

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

I am part of a team that formed a company called Pedianostics to develop rapid, noninvasive, innovative and accurate diagnostic tests to monitor diseases in children, enabling earlier, improved and personalized treatment. I am confident that the Business Development Fellows program can help me bring our research into the market effectively.

 What is the most important of all the lessons learned through the center?

I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is about recombinant innovations—that is, using existing ideas and applying them in a new context. These ideas are usually formed out of collaborations and interactions with other people. Thus, in order to do amazing innovations, you must be willing to expand your social networks.

What’s next (after UC Davis)?

I am deciding between offers at this point. But I expect to continue expanding my networks. The Entrepreneurship Academy, the Big Bang! competition and the Business Development Fellows program have changed me completely. I can’t thank
the center enough for bringing out the entrepreneurial spirit in me.