While most little girls grow up playing with dolls, Angela Leung spent her early years pretending her stuffed animals were patients, and she was their doctor.
In and out of hospitals at a young age due to her asthma, Angela quickly grew comfortable with doctors, nurses, and medicine, and spent most of her free time playing make-believe, imagining she could fix any ailment – and turn her patients into friends.
By the time she emigrated from China to Indiana with her family at the age of four, her mind was made up – she would fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor who not only cared for but cared about, her patients.
Fast-forward thirty years and Angela’s dream has come true. And she’s now determined to help others fulfill their dreams of starting a family.
Today, Angela – who now goes by Dr. Leung – is a reproductive endocrinologist, and helps men, women, and couples who want to have a baby, preserve their fertility or just take care of a reproductive health issue. Her main focus, besides helping her patients achieve success, is developing a close relationship with them so they feel safe showing vulnerability, confident asking questions, and comfortable investing in their fertility journey.
“My goal is to develop a personal relationship with every one of my patients,” Dr. Leung said. “To know small things about them, like what they do for work or some detail about their family. I want them to be comfortable asking me questions because if you don’t feel connected with your doctor, or feel judged for asking questions, you won’t inquire about the things that matter to you, and that has an impact.”
“Developing that trusting relationship is important so my patients can get comfortable, open up, and ask me whatever they want – like, ‘can you explain how the menstrual cycle works?’ It’s complicated, and that’s what I’m here for. This type of relationship is what drew me to women’s health to start with, and what gives me the most satisfaction. When you can help a woman get pregnant and develop a close enough relationship where you are celebrating together, that’s priceless.”
Of course, Dr. Leung’s patient philosophy wasn’t quite crystallized by her fourth birthday. But it was in the making even then and continued to take shape as she pursued her dream of becoming a doctor.
Attracted to the east coast as a young woman, Dr. Leung moved from the Midwest to Princeton, New Jersey to pursue her undergraduate degree at Princeton University, where she studied ecology and evolutionary biology, and along with her degree earned a minor in neuroscience. She then headed back to Indiana for medical school, earning her MD at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. It was there that she began to narrow her medical path. At first, the dexterous Dr. Leung (she plays piano and violin) thought she might want to focus on surgery, but as soon as she got a taste of obstetrics and gynecology, she was hooked.
“My OB/GYN rotation in medical school was the best experience,” Dr. Leung said. “I really enjoyed the relationships I built with patients.”
“Connecting with women in different stages of their lives, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, was very special to me. I truly enjoyed helping them navigate the emotional and physical changes they were experiencing. It was so appealing that I decided I wanted to go into obstetrics and gynecology.”
With that decision came a move from Indiana back to the east coast, this time to Boston, to pursue her OB/GYN residency at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Tufts Medical Center.
While Dr. Leung didn’t have a ton of exposure to Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) during medical school, she had a hunch she might want to specialize in the field, since it was the perfect mix of medicine and relationship-building for her. Eager to get going, she decided to do her REI rotation as soon as possible when she arrived at Tufts – and the rest was history.
“I enjoyed it so much,” she said, “and knew this was what I was meant to do.”
“The field was developing so fast, everything seemed cutting edge, and the patient population was very special. It checked all the boxes.”
Following residency, Dr. Leung strayed in the Boston area to complete her REI fellowship – another three years of training focused specifically on infertility – at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School and Boston IVF.
She completed that fellowship in the summer of 2021 and had a world of opportunity ahead of her. Where would she work as an attending physician, forming close relationships with patients who she’d help grow their families?
“RMA,” she said, “was a no-brainer, and I’d known that for years.”
“In this industry, it’s really important to have an excellent embryology laboratory, which is what determines a huge part of your success and your patients’ success. RMA has an incredibly strong lab, an excellent reputation for patient care, and a history of being a research powerhouse. I knew I’d be lucky to land here, and I’m so fortunate I did.”
Dr. Leung said RMA’s focus on research and evidence-based care is not just something that’s good for RMA – it’s something that translates to patient success.
“In this field that’s rapidly changing all the time, being in a place like RMA, where there is an unwavering commitment to data and science, you know they’ll be practicing the best medicine.”
In her office, with her lab coat on, Dr. Leung’s goal is simple – every day, she wants to make sure her patients are heard.
“One of the most important things to me is to make sure my patients feel like the most important people in the world,” she said. “They need to be comfortable in order to trust this journey.”
“I never want a patient to leave my office confused or overwhelmed. I want us to be on the same page, me just as invested as them in getting and staying pregnant.”
Board-certified in OB/GYN, Dr. Leung has conducted numerous research studies in the field of infertility. She has used single-cell sequencing to compare the sperm of fertile and infertile men (2019 research for which she was awarded a $10,000 grant).
She’s found that prior exposure to hormone therapy in trans men had no effect on the number of eggs retrieved during IVF (their counts were comparable to the egg counts of cis women). And she’s studied the question of how many eggs are necessary to achieve multiple live births with one IVF cycle (it’s greater than 15). In addition, she’s investigated dozens of more topics in translational research whose outcomes matter to patients.