Off the Clock at LMP: Roland Xu, organizer of the Mount Sinai Minstrels

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Roland Xu
Roland Xu, Pathobiology Specialist Program alumnus

Using music as a means of inspiration, Roland Xu organizes the Mount Sinai Minstrels, a group of volunteer musicians that plays classical music for patients, their families and hospital staff each week. A recent alumnus of the undergraduate Pathobiology Specialist Program, and winner of the 2014 University of Toronto Alumni Association Scholars Award, he formed the Minstrels in 2011 to give back to the community. In the future, Xu plans to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders to effect positive change in his native rural China. He also wishes to pursue a career in medicine and translational research.

What have you enjoyed most about playing with the Minstrels? Playing music with the Minstrels has been one of my most cherished memories in my undergraduate career. Using music as a medium, I have been able to communicate with people from various backgrounds and have witnessed its profound healing effects. Regardless of their level of expertise, our audience enjoys our music and are greatly appreciative of our efforts. A few of them even give us tips on how to perform with “swagger.”

What were you researching while at LMP? While at LMP I worked with Professor Carol Swallow and we uncovered a novel role of a protein kinase called Polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4) in regulating cell invasion. Currently, we are using a proteomic approach to identify interacting proteins of Plk4 which may provide insights into the molecular mechanism by which Plk4 promotes cancer cell invasion.

How has music influenced your research and undergraduate studies?
Music has provided me with a medium for self-expression allowing me to foster my sense of creativity. Most importantly, music has been the ideal distraction for me whenever I was overwhelmed by the stress of a rigorous academic curriculum or dealing with the depression associated with a failed western blot.

What do you plan to do in the future?
I am a self-proclaimed foodie and in the future I hope to travel the world and taste the finest cuisines. In terms of career aspirations, I wish to become a clinician-scientist and work to bridge the gap between basic science research and clinical practice.

  Hear Roland play violin and speak about his experience here.