Professor Leo K Cheng

BE(Hons) PhD


Leo is a Professor at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and leads research in gastrointestinal motility and electrophysiology. He graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Science with First Class Honours in 1997 and a PhD in Bioengineering in 2002.


Research | Current

Leo's main interests are in understanding electrophysiological events in the gastrointestinal tract and the heart and their relationship to mechanical function. He is also interested in developing methods for non-invasively recording and interpreting the weak electrical and magnetic fields that result from cardiac and gastrointestinal electrical activity.

Leo works closely with a number of international research groups based in the US (Vanderbilt University, Mayo Clinic, New York Institute of Technology, University of Louisville, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Michigan) and Europe (Université libre de Bruxelles, University of Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IPA and Fraunhfoer IZM).

Leo is grateful for active research funding from:

Leo has recently completed research grants from:

Project Links

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhDs

  1. Luman Wang (enrolled 2017). Model-based design of gastric pacemakers.
  2. Jaime Lara (enrolled 2018). Techniques for recording and analysis of high-resolution skeletal muscle electromyogram recordings. Supported by a UOA Doctoral Scholarship.
  3. Alex Chan (enrolled 2018). An analysis platform for gastric electrical mapping data.
  4. Zahra Aghababaie (enrolled 2018). Targeted ablation therapy for treatment of gastrointestinal dysrhythmias.
  5. Sachira Kuruppu (enrolled 2018). Investigation into the relationship between gastrointestinal slow waves, spikes and motility.
  6. Henry Han (enrolled 2018). New generation of high-resolution mapping techniques for slow wave refractory analysis.
  7. Saeed Hosseini (enrolled 2018). Physiolocally Based Model of Gastric Motility and Emptying. Supported by a UOA Doctoral Scholarship.
  8. Sue-Ann Mah (enrolled 2019). Correlation of Tissue Structure and Electrical Function in the Gut.
  9. Nipuni Nagahawatte (enrolled 2020). Integrated high-energy pacing and high-resolution mapping of the stomach and small intestine. Supported by a UOA Doctoral Scholarship.
  10. Kiara Miller (enrolled 2020). Non-invasive Electromyography Recordings for Assessing Swallowing. Supported by a UOA Doctoral Scholarship.

Current MEs

  1. N/A

Completed PhDs

  1. Ryman Hashem. Development of Gastric Soft-Bodied Robot Actuator Capable of Biomimicking Human Gastric Motility (2021).
  2. Dipankar Bhattacharya. Actuation and Control of a Soft Bodied Swallowing Robot (2021).
  3. Saeed AlighalehNew Foundations for Pacing the Stomach (2021).
  4. Frank Yu Dang. Modelling and Analysis of a Pneumatically Actuated Soft Robot Mimicking Human Gastric Motility (2020). Supported by a CSC Scholarship.
  5. Stefan Calder. An experimental and theoretical analysis of electrogastrography (EGG) (2020). Supported by an Andrew Pullan PhD Scholarship.
  6. Adbul Sattar Din. Development of Deformable Array of Strain and Tactile Sensors for a Biomimetic Oesophageal Swallowing Robot.
  7. Rachel Berry. Human Gastric Slow Wave Activity Redefined Through High-Resolution Mapping. Supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship.
  8. Mingzhu Zhu. Central Pattern Generator Based Involuntary Peristalsis Control of a Swallowing Device by Modelling, Design and Experiments.
  9. Shameer Sathar. High performance computational simulations of gastrointestinal electrical activity.
  10. Steven Dirven. Biomimetic Design and Experimental Methods Towards a Biologically Inspired, Soft Bodied, Peristaltic, Esophageal Swallowing Robot.
  11. Jerry GaoModelling the physiological consequences of interstitial cells of cajal network depletion on gastrointestinal function.
  12. Rachel Lees-Green. Keeping pace with interstitial cells of Cajal: Modelling gastrointestinal electrophysiology.
  13. Laura Bear. Non-invasive analysis of cardiac electrophysiology from body surface potentials.
  14. Muhammad Zeeshan Ul Haque. A model of the nerves in the diabetic foot.
  15. Tim Angeli. Small intestine slow wave activity defined through in vivo high-resolution electrical mapping.
  16. Niranchan PaskaranandavadivelTechniques for quantification and interpretation of gastric slow wave activity.
  17. Peng Du. Mathematical modelling of gastric electrophysiology (Vice Chancellor's Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis).
  18. Rita Yassi. A realistic finite element model of the human gastro-oesophageal junction.

Completed MEs

  1. Kiara Miller. High-resolution Electrophysiological Mapping of the Mid-gut in Rabbits (2020).
  2. Nipuni Nagahawatte. Micro-electrode arrays recordings for recording slow wave activity (2020).
  3. Abhishek Kamat. Determining the effects of electrode diameter and protrusion on signal morphology of gastrointestinal bioelectrical recordings (2018).
  4. Ashley Abraham. Quantification of high-resolution rabbit intestine slow wave dynamics (2018). (Fowlds Memorial Prize (ABI), for Best ME thesis).
  5. Saeed Mollaee. Classification and Quantification of Colonic Motor Patterns Undergoing Neuromodulation Therapy (2018).
  6. Shasti Ramachandran. Magnetic stimulation of evoked sphincter potentials as a test of anorectal neuropathy (2017).
  7. Franziska Eckardt. Anatomically Realistic Finite Element Models of the Pelvic Floor Muscle.
  8. Niranchan Paskaranandavadivel. Analysis of Body Surface Electrocardiograms During Atrial Fibrillation.
  9. Kimberly Noakes. Mathematical Models of the Pelvic Floor and Anal Canal.




  • 2020-current: Disciplinary Committee, University of Auckland
  • 2019-2020: Research Committee, Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • 2016-current: Research Leadership Group, Riddet Institute CoRE
  • 2015-current: Associate Investigator, Riddet Institute CoRE
  • 2015-current: Flagship Leader and Associate Investigator, MedTech CoRE
  • 2015-2018: Research Committtee, University of Auckland
  • 2015-2018: Associate Director Research, Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • 2013-current: Executive Committtee, Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • 2013: Organising Committee, OpenSim Workshop & MuscleUp Symposium
  • 2012-current: Executive Committee, International Gastrointestinal Electrophysiology Society
  • 2011: Chair of Organising Committee, 2nd International Meeting on New Advances on Gastrointestinal Motility
  • 2011-2019: Human Participants Ethics Advisor, Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • 2008-2014: Affiliated Researcher, Riddet Institute CoRE
  • 2006-current: Principal Investigator Committee, Auckland Bioengineering Institute


Areas of expertise

  • mathematical modelling of cardiac and gastrointestinal electrophysiology
  • forward and inverse problems of electrocardiology
  • non-invasive methods for recording bio-electro-magnetic fields
  • electrode development for measuring gastrointestinal electrophysiology
  • high performance computing
  • construction of anatomically realistic models

Committees/Professional groups/Services


  • iGES (International Gastrointestinal Electrophysiology Society)
  • ANMS (American Neurogastrointestinal Motility Society)
  • IFFGD (International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Diseases)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Gao, J., Du, P., O'Grady G, Archer, R., Farrugia, G., Gibbons, S. J., & Cheng, L. K. (2013). Numerical metrics for automated quantification of interstitial cell of Cajal network structural properties. J R Soc Interface, 10 (86)10.1098/rsif.2013.0421
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rosalind Archer, Greg O'Grady, Peng Du
  • Kim, J. H. K., Pullan, A. J., & Cheng, L. K. (2012). Reconstruction of multiple gastric electrical wave fronts using potential-based inverse methods. Phys Med Biol, 57 (16), 5205-5219. 10.1088/0031-9155/57/16/5205
  • O'Grady G, Angeli, T. R., Du, P., Lahr, C., Lammers, W. J. E. P., Windsor, J. A., ... Cheng, L. K. (2012). Abnormal initiation and conduction of slow-wave activity in gastroparesis, defined by high-resolution electrical mapping. Gastroenterology, 143 (3), 589-598. 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.05.036
  • Du, P., O'Grady G, Cheng, L. K., & Pullan, A. J. (2010). A multiscale model of the electrophysiological basis of the human electrogastrogram. Biophys J, 99 (9), 2784-2792. 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.08.067
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peng Du, Greg O'Grady
  • Du, P., O'Grady G, Gibbons, S. J., Yassi, R., Lees-Green, R., Farrugia, G., ... Pullan, A. J. (2010). Tissue-specific mathematical models of slow wave entrainment in wild-type and 5-HT(2B) knockout mice with altered interstitial cells of Cajal networks. Biophys J, 98 (9), 1772-1781. 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.01.009
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peng Du, Greg O'Grady
  • Du, P., O'Grady G, Egbuji, J. U., Lammers, W. J., Budgett, D., Nielsen, P., ... Cheng, L. K. (2009). High-resolution mapping of in vivo gastrointestinal slow wave activity using flexible printed circuit board electrodes: methodology and validation. Ann Biomed Eng, 37 (4), 839-846. 10.1007/s10439-009-9654-9
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Windsor, Poul Nielsen
  • Cheng, L. K., Komuro, R., Austin, T. M., Buist, M. L., & Pullan, A. J. (2007). Anatomically realistic multiscale models of normal and abnormal gastrointestinal electrical activity. World J Gastroenterol, 13 (9), 1378-1383.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 8, Room 813
New Zealand

Web links