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DIR Researcher Profile: Dr. Leorey N. Saligan

Leorey N. Saligan, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN

Dr. Leorey N. SaliganSenior Tenured Investigator, Symptoms Biology Unit
Division of Intramural Research



Topic: The research activities of the Symptoms Biology Unit aim to address the "Prevention and Health Promotion" research lens. 

Issue: One area of greatest distress for our clinical population, particularly among cancer survivors, are complaints of physical and cognitive decline related to their cancer treatments. These functional declines remain poorly characterized with no diagnostic test to objectively measure the severity of this condition. In addition, evidence has shown that most of these conditions may be a treatment-limiting and often impairs health-related quality of life.

Impact: Dr. Saligan is introducing clinically relevant approaches to phenotype chronic symptoms related to cancer and chronic illness to optimize treatment and management of these conditions. His group’s current research activities are intentionally developed to improve or maintain functional performance of vulnerable populations and communities (i.e., cancer survivors and those living with chronic illnesses). His group’s innovative approaches aim to understand the barriers to functional performance from these vulnerable populations and communities, as well as identify behavioral, social, environmental, and biologic factors that can be used as interventional targets.

Research Protocols


  • Serves as an officer within the United States Public Health Service
  • Became an Assistant Clinical Investigator and Principal Investigator of several clinical protocols since 2009.
  • Joined NINR in 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow within the Symptom Management Branch, where he became a Lead Associate Investigator of a clinical trial involving individuals with fibromyalgia


  • 2021 NINR Director’s Service Award
  • 2020 Awarded tenure as NIH Senior Investigator
  • 2020 NIH Director’s Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award
  • 2020 Hasselmeyer Award for Research Initiatives, Office of the Surgeon General
  • 2018 Yu (Philip) Xu Mentoring Award, Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association


  • PhD, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
  • MS, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
  • BS in Nursing, Liceo de Cagayan University, Philippines
  • BS in Medical Technology, Silliman University, Philippines


  • 2021: Vice Chair, Fatigue Study Group, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
  • 2021: United States Public Health Service, Chief Nurse Officer Senior Advisory Committee member
  • 2021: Chair, Planning Committee, Oncology Nursing Society - National Cancer Institute - NINR Symptom
  • Science Scientific Colloquium
  • 2018: Nurses on Board Coalition, Asian and Pacific Islander Nurses representative

Selected Publications

Social Determinants of Health

  1. Differences in Circulating Extracellular Vesicle and Soluble Cytokines in Older Versus Younger Breast Cancer Patients With Distinct Symptom Profiles. Sass D, Fitzgerald W, Wolff BS, Torres I, Pagan-Mercado G, Armstrong TS, Miaskowski C, Margolis L, Saligan LN, Kober KM. (in press).
  2. Sex Differences in Behavioral Symptoms and the Levels of Circulating GFAP, Tau, and NfL in Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury. Sass D, Guedes VA, Smith EG, Vorn R, Devoto C, Edwards KA, Mithani S, Hentig J, Lai C, Wagner C, Dunbar K, Hyde DR, Saligan L, Roy MJ, Gill J. Frontiers Pharm. 2021 Nov 26;12:746491. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.746491.
  3. The health-related quality of life of Puerto Ricans during cancer treatments: a pilot study. Gonzalez, V.J., McMillan, S., Pedro, E., Tirado-Gomez, M., Saligan, L.N. Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal. 2018, 37(1), 46-51. 
  4. Validation of the Spanish version of the Cancer Symptom Scale in Hispanic cancer patients. Gonzalez-Mercado, V.J., Saligan, L.N., Rodriguez, C.S., Ortiz, D., Pedro, E., McMillan, S.C. 2018. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 24(6), e12700. doi: 10.1111/ijn.12700.
  5. Differences in the severity, distress, interference, and frequency on cancer-related symptoms between island Hispanic Puerto Ricans and mainland Non-Hispanic Whites. González-Mercado, V.J., Saligan, L.N., Ji, M., Groer M., Pedro, E., McMillan, S. 2017. J Immigr Health, 20(4),1029-1039. doi: 10.1007/s10903-017-0651-z.

Phenotyping Functional Performance

  1. Accelerated epigenetic age in normal cognitive aging of Korean community-dwelling older adults. Park, J., Won, C.W., Saligan, L.N., Kim, Y.J., Kim, Y., Lukkahatai, N. 2021. Biologic Research for Nursing, doi: 10.1177/1099800420983896.
  2. Clinical characterization and cytokine profile of fatigue in hematologic malignancy patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease.  Goklemez S, Saligan LN, Pirsl F, Holtzman NG, Ostojic A, Steinberg SM, Hakim FT, Rose JJ, Kang Z, Yu Y, Cao L, Mitchell SA, Im A, Pavletic SZ. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2021. 56(12):2934-2939. doi: 10.1038/s41409-021-01419-2.
  3. Cognitive and motor aspects of cancer-related fatigue. Feng, L.R., Regan, J., Shrader, J.A., Liwang, J., Ross, A., Kumar, S., Saligan, L.N. 2019. Cancer Medicine, 8(3), 5840-5849. doi: 10.1002/cam4.2490.
  4. Disentangling the association of depression on the anti-fatigue effects of ketamine. Saligan LN, Farmer C, Ballard ED, Kadriu B, Zarate CA Jr. J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 1;244:42-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.10.089. Epub 2018 Oct 6. PMID: 30312839.
  5. An assessment of the anti-fatigue effects of ketamine from a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in bipolar disorder. Saligan LN, Luckenbaugh DA, Slonena EE, Machado-Vieira R, Zarate CA Jr. J Affect Disord. 2016 Apr;194:115-9. PMID: 26807672.

Biobehavioral Factors of Functional Performance

  1. Plasma metabolomic profile associated with fatigue in cancer patients. Feng, L.R., Barb, J.J., Regan, J., Saligan, L.N. 2021. Cancer Medicine, doi: 10.1002/cam4.3749.
  2. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor polymorphism Val66Met protects against cancer-related fatigue. Feng, R.L., Juneau, P., Regan, J.M., Liwang, J., Alshawi, S., Wang, A., Saligan, L.N. 2020. Translational Psychiatry, 10(1), 302. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-00990-4.
  3. mGluR5 mediates post-radiotherapy fatigue development in cancer patients. Feng LR, Fernández-Martí­nez JL, Zaal KJM, deAndrés-Galiana EJ, Wolff BS, Saligan LN. Transl Psychiatry. 2018 May 30;8(1):110. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0161-3. PMID: 29849049
  4. Evaluating the Role of Mitochondrial Function in Cancer-related Fatigue. Feng LR, Nguyen Q, Ross A, Saligan LN. J Vis Exp. 2018 May 17;(135). doi: 10.3791/57736. PMID: 29863679
  5. Altered Cd8+ T lymphocyte Response Triggered by Arginase 1: Implication for Fatigue Intensification during Localized Radiation Therapy in Prostate Cancer Patients. Saligan LN, Lukkahatai N, Zhang ZJ, Cheung CW, Wang XM. Neuropsychiatry (London). 2018;8(4):1249-1262. doi: 10.4172/Neuropsychiatry.1000454. PMID: 30364895
  6. The role of TRAIL in fatigue induced by repeated stress from radiotherapy. Feng LR, Suy S, Collins SP, Saligan LN. J Psychiatr Res. 2017 Aug;91:130-138. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.03.012. Epub 2017 Mar 20. PMID: 28343068

For Dr. Saligan's full bibliography, please visit PubMed or ORCID