Dec 5, 2023

Humans of LMP: Leo Xu

Programs: Undergraduate, Agile education, Inclusive community
Leo Xu

Each month we speak to a member of the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology community and find out more about them as part of an initiative from our Wellness, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee (WIDE).

This month we feature undergraduate student in the Specialist Program in Pathobiology and current LMPSU Co-president, Leo Xu.

He and co-president Rachelle Lee are running the 2024 LMPSU Research Conference titled "Why Brain Matter Matters: Navigating Neurodegeneration". Registration is open! (read Rachelle's Humans of LMP feature

Visit the Humans of LMP page to read more stories and nominate yourself or others to be featured.

What are you studying at LMP and why are you interested in studying it?   

I’m currently studying neurodegenerative diseases within the LMP Department with the Schmitt-Ulms lab. My research focuses on unraveling the connection between the cellular prion protein, implicated in illnesses like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease when misfolded, and the protein aggregates associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

My interest in this field began when I wrote a mini-review on the subject for LMP200, the first LMP course the undergraduates take. It's both intriguing and disheartening to realize that the etiology of numerous neurodegenerative diseases remains incompletely understood, and effective cures are still elusive – I hope to potentially contribute to advancements in understanding these debilitating illnesses. I’ve also always been interested in the field of neuroscience, as my father is a former neurologist.  

I chose the LMP program due to its close-knit undergraduate community and the impressive 4:1 faculty-to-student ratio. Being a part of the LMP program has immersed me in a supportive environment with highly motivated peers who inspire me to strive for excellence. Additionally, the chance to collaborate with Dr. Jeff Lee, our undergraduate coordinator, along with the delightful team of Louella, Jenni, and Kate in the administrative team has been a rewarding experience!

Having finished all the required LMP courses in my third year, I can say that LMP courses are the most interesting courses I’ve taken during undergrad. Courses such as LMP440 and LMP420 have enhanced my fundamental scientific reasoning, while LMP415 and LMP430 have provided valuable exposure to clinical and medical perspectives. 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at LMP?  

I’m fortunate to have been a part of the LMP Undergraduate Student's Union (LMPSU) throughout my undergraduate journey, serving as the co-president this year and previously holding the roles of vice president and year representative.

One of the highlights of my time with LMPSU has been overseeing the organization of our conferences and even contributing to the creative process of naming them! The 2023 conference on senescence was particularly memorable as it marked our return to in-person conferences post-COVID-19. It was immensely gratifying to witness the successful execution of months of planning by our dedicated team, resulting in an impressive turnout of over 250 individuals. 

Looking ahead, I am eagerly anticipating the 2024 LMPSU research conference, titled "Why Brain Matter Matters: Navigating Neurodegeneration". I am genuinely excited to hear from our distinguished speakers, including Drs. Gabor G. Kovacs, Michael Pollanen and, Karun Singh, from our LMP department, as well as other experts and to hear of their cutting-edge research and perspectives!  

What was the best career advice you ever received?   

I only have a clichéd response, but that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, and not to worry about things outside your control.  

What has been an important learning experience in your life?   

Not everything’s going to work out, and that it’s up to you to make the most out of everything. 

Who is an influential person in your life and why?  

My parents – I wouldn’t be where I am today without all their sacrifices and unconditional support.  

What would it surprise people to know about you?  

Although I was born in China, my Mandarin Chinese skills are lacking; instead, I’m fluent in a dialect of Chinese spoken in Shanghai.

What activities do you enjoy doing outside of work?  

I don’t have any interesting hobbies at the moment – however, I’ve been planning on starting a freshwater aquarium again when I find the time!

What is your favourite album, film, and novel?  

Album: Songs from a Secret Garden  

Film: I don’t typically watch movies, but lately I’ve been enjoying the ER television series 

Novel: Catch-22 

Where/what is your favourite place?  

Although I’m content with anywhere that’s calm and quiet, I miss the mountains, views, and the trails of British Columbia!  

If you were stuck on a deserted island but had all your basic needs taken care of (i.e. food and water), what two items would you bring with you and why? 

Having a solar panel and an e-reader/tablet would provide me with the opportunity to catch up on the backlog of books I've been intending to read!  

Register for the 2024 LMPSU Research Conference

Explore the latest breakthroughs in neurodegeneration research.
LMPSU Conference 2024: Why Brain Matter Matters