Leorey N. Saligan, Ph.D., R.N., C.R.N.P.


Symptom Management Branch


Building 3, Room 5E14
3 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892



Research Topics

Many patients experience fatigue while receiving standard therapies for cancer. Fatigue during cancer treatment is the most distressing symptom reported by patients contributing to the decline of their health-related quality of life. It is often managed by stopping therapy or lowering the treatment dose for the patient, both of which can adversely affect treatment outcomes. Through his research, Dr. Leorey Saligan aims to develop more effective ways to manage fatigue and, as a result, improve overall treatment outcomes.

Dr. Saligan's current research focuses on understanding biobehavioral mechanisms of fatigue with the longer-term goal of developing novel interventions that can alleviate this symptom in a variety of clinical conditions. His research program is divided into two areas:

Acute Fatigue
Dr. Saligan aims to understand the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in fatigue development. His current findings show a significant correlation between fatigue development and increased levels of erythrocyte oxidative stress, as well as differential expression of genes associated with impairment of mitochondrial integrity. Furthermore, he recently observed a significant association between upregulation of neuroinflammatory markers and worsening of fatigue symptoms. Dr. Saligan is currently pursuing these markers through in vivo, in vitro, and ex vivo investigations to further understand their role in fatigue development. He is also using neuroimaging techniques to describe signs of oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain during fatigue development. He has developed a novel exercise intervention geared to improve aerobic metabolism of patients in order to potentially reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue
This specific area of Dr. Saligan’s research program focuses on the lingering fatigue symptoms that are experienced by patients after completion of cancer therapy or years after the initial diagnosis. His group is investigating whether alteration of central mechanisms, including the sympathetic (adrenergic) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) pathways, has a role in the prolonged fatigue experience of these patients. Furthermore, he is investigating the relationship of fatigue with other behavioral symptoms including pain, sleep, depression, anxiety, and catastrophizing.


Dr. Saligan received his Ph.D. in Nursing from Hampton University. In 2007, he joined the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) as a post-doctoral fellow within the Symptoms Management Branch, where he became a Lead Associate Investigator of a clinical trial involving individuals with fibromyalgia. In 2009, he became an Assistant Clinical Investigator and Principal Investigator of several clinical protocols, including:

  • Investigating Molecular-Genetic Correlates of Fatigue Experienced by Cancer Patients Receiving Treatment (11-NR-0014)
  • Molecular-Genetic Correlates of Fatigue in Cancer Patients Receiving Localized External Beam Radiation Therapy (09-NR-0088)
  • Fatigue in Healthy Individuals (09-NR-0131), and
  • Evaluation and Diagnosis of Potential Research Subjects with Pain and Fatigue Syndromes (08-NR-0132).

Dr. Saligan became a tenure-track investigator in 2012 and expanded his research program to investigate the biobehavioral mechanisms of fatigue. He also serves as an officer within the United States Public Health Service and as a nurse practitioner with the Washington, D.C. Service Access Team.

Selected Publications

  1. Saligan LN, Luckenbaugh DA, Slonena EE, Machado-Vieira R, Zarate CA Jr. An assessment of the anti-fatigue effects of ketamine from a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in bipolar disorder. J Affect Disord. 2016;194:115-9.

  2. Feng LR, Wolff BS, Lukkahatai N, Espina A, Saligan LN. Exploratory Investigation of Early Biomarkers for Chronic Fatigue in Prostate Cancer Patients Following Radiation Therapy. Cancer Nurs. 2017;40(3):184-193.

  3. Saligan LN, Olson K, Filler K, Larkin D, Cramp F, Yennurajalingam S, Escalante CP, del Giglio A, Kober KM, Kamath J, Palesh O, Mustian K, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer Fatigue Study Group-Biomarker Working Group.. The biology of cancer-related fatigue: a review of the literature. Support Care Cancer. 2015;23(8):2461-78.

  4. Feng LR, Suy S, Collins SP, Saligan LN. The role of TRAIL in fatigue induced by repeated stress from radiotherapy. J Psychiatr Res. 2017;91:130-138.

  5. Saligan LN, Fernández-Martínez JL, deAndrés-Galiana EJ, Sonis S. Supervised classification by filter methods and recursive feature elimination predicts risk of radiotherapy-related fatigue in patients with prostate cancer. Cancer Inform. 2014;13:141-52.

This page was last updated on August 28th, 2017