Mārcis Leja

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Coordinator, Application for an EU Joint Action on Cancer Screening

Mārcis Leja is a Professor of Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Director of the Institute of Clinical and Preventive Medicine, University of Latvia and a consulting gastroenterologist at the Digestive Diseases Centre, Riga, Latvia. He has served as a member of the European Cancer Mission Board from 2019 to 2021; currently is a member of the Research Committee of United European Gastroenterology (UEG) and the European Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Group (EHMSG) as well as a fellow of Latvia Academy of Science and American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

His main research interests include screening, prevention and early detection of cancer, in particular - gastrointestinal cancer.

Since 2013 the group led by Dr Leja is conducting a randomised gastric cancer prevention study GISTAR (www.gistar.eu); the study is managed in close cooperation with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). As for now, the study has recruited more than 11,000 generally healthy individuals to be followed up for the risk of cancer. Recently (2023) a project “Towards gastric cancer screening implementation in the European Union” has been launched and will be coordinated by Dr Leja.

The related interests of Dr Leja include the use of volatile organic marker (VOC) diagnostic concept in gastrointestinal cancer detection, the role of microbiota in health and disease as well as the use of large data and AI for prevention and early detection.

Dr Leja has developed an extensive collaboration in the field of early gastric cancer detection and prevention in the EU and beyond involving countries like U.K., Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, the US (National Cancer institute, Vanderbilt University), Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Taiwan and China.

Dr Leja is author of more than 200 research publications (of those at least 140 Scopus or WoSCC), 6 book chapters.

Updated: October 2023