The cancer research lab is in the curative stage of developing the preclinical cancer therapy, which is expected to lead to clinical translation in a short amount of time. The main goal of the lab’s work this past year has been to engineer bacteria that colonize tumors consistently, comprehensively and without toxicity. These bacteria have been modified to secrete molecules into the tumor that stimulate the immune system to destroy the cancer and guard against its return. Once they find the optimal dosage of immuno-therapeutic genes, they will be prepared to translate our system into clinical therapy. It is extremely important to find the optimal combination of these strains for human clinical application, even though it is time consuming.  We have recently added Cannabidiol (CBD) to the genetic construct and have found that the CBD attacks the microcapillaries in the tumor, disintegrating the tumor while drawing in the Salmonella for release of the cytokines that stimulate the immune system to kill the cancer. This is very exciting because it is bringing toxicity to acceptable levels, which allows for impressive tumor colonization by Salmonella and efficient delivery of immune modulating proteins to the tumor microenvironment. We are continually optimizing the most efficient combination and concentration of the immunotherapeutic proteins secreted by the bacteria to destroy tumors. Once we find the optimal dosage of our genetically engineered bacteria, we will be prepared to translate our system into clinical therapy.

As we learn more about how cancers develop and spread, the bioengineering cancer research lab at the University of Minnesota has focused on the tumor microenvironment where cancers can grow and flourish.


In addition, the lab uses engineered salmonella to carry proteins that block the cancer’s ability to suppress the immune system.
Using genetically altered Salmonella to deliver a cocktail of immune modulating proteins right to a cancerous tumor (into the tumor microenvironment), the immune system is stimulated to make cancer killing immune cells.

Thus, they are altering the cancer’s microenvironment by simultaneously stimulating the immune system to kill cancer and STOP the cancer cell’s ability to spread and grow.

The FDA will require several studies once the lab determines which combination is most effective for the Investigational New Drug (IND) application.

Funds are currently being used to study a variety of cancer types. Watch the video below for an illustration of this process:


LET’S HELP DESTROY CANCER through Salmonella!

Mission Statement

The Arnold S. Leonard Cancer Research Fund operates exclusively to engage in, advance, support, promote, raise money for and administer research and educational activities in genetic engineering to boost the immune system to fight cancer solely through the non-profit corporation, University of Minnesota Foundation.

Who are we

Dr. Leonard attended the University of Minnesota, graduating from the Medical School in 1955 and receiving his Ph.D. in 1963. While in medical school, he worked in the operating room during the first open-heart surgery. After completing residency in General Surgery, he was specifically chosen by Dr. Wangensteen to seek specialty training in Pediatric Surgery.

He conducted the first thorascopic surgical procedure at the University of Minnesota, breaking into the minimally invasive surgery arena and leading the way to the development of advanced laparoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques. Dr. Leonard has developed several medical devices including a novel long-term central venous access catheter that is the most popular long term central catheter used today in the United States for the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents in cancer patients. He has contributed to the understanding of metastatic Wilm’s tumor and its role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy; a move by the Children’s Cancer Research Committee that has literally saved thousands of lives throughout the world. He also developed a method to expose the spine from an anterior approach; a technique that has revolutionized the treatment of scoliosis. Dr. Leonard also developed a novel method to correct chest deformities; Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum. To date, he has performed over 1500 of such repairs and is considered to be one of the world’s experts in the treatment of such deformities. Surgical protocols that he developed concerning the treatment of children with cystic fibrosis are now employed nationwide.

He has given over 60 national and international talks and authored over 260 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Leonard’s research laboratory has received two American College of Surgeons awards and the Watson Award from the University of Minnesota for innovative approaches in boosting the immune system. He holds an Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and continues to research Genetic Engineering.

Dr. Leonard continues to raise funds for the Saltzman lab at the University of Minnesota and attends weekly lab meetings with the team of Doctors, Scientists and Volunteers working on this cutting edge cancer research that Dr. Leonard began over 20 years ago. He also teaches classes in 4 subjects to University of Minnesota Medical School students, and is involved in a number of philanthropic organizations. Dr. Leonard continues to enjoy gardening his championship Dahlias, hunting traveling, his growing number of great grandchildren, and attending University of Minnesota alumni events.


  • Arnold S. Leonard, Chairman
  • Phil Kalleberg, Vice Chairman
  • Marv Kotek, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Robert Acton, Trustee
  • Dave Libert, Trustee
  • Jim Hill, Trustee
  • Bill Gorrilla, Trustee
  • Zach Meyer, Trustee
  • Trina Jacobson, Trustee