Universtiy of Miami Miller School of Medicine Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs

Diversity & Inclusion : Rolando Lyles

Posted: 07.24.2018

Rolando Lyles was born in Miami Florida and is the youngest of 4 raised in a household headed by his mother. As a high school student, Rolando attended the School for Advanced Studies where he simultaneously earned an Associate’s Degree in Biology along with his high school diploma. Rolando went on to be nominated for and receive a Posse Foundation National Scholarship and attend the University of Pennsylvania as a Posse Scholar. Due to his academic achievements, perseverance, warm personality, and determination, this past fall Rolando was invited to be the honorary alumni representative speaker at an annual Posse event known as Power of 10. The Power of 10 event is centered around an exceptional alumnus who gets to share their story with the founder and president of Posse along with Posse’s largest supporters, advisers, and donors.

The Posse Foundation is a national initiative with the primary objective of identifying highly qualified student leaders throughout the country, then training them to access their inner potential while helping to prepare them to serve as leaders throughout the next phases of their life. Posse then groups these selected students into “Posses” – or support groups – of scholars who will befriend and support each other throughout their college experience. The Posse Foundation provides a full-tuition scholarship to all Posse Scholars, and along with sending a group of stellar students to a university as a support system, Posse also appoints an on-campus mentor to ensure the success of scholars. The relationship between Posse and the Posse Scholars exists well beyond the students’ undergraduate tenure as Posse also maintains an active graduate and alumni branch which keeps all students connected. Posse is truly a lifetime experience.

As a Posse Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Rolando graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree minoring in Mathematics and Engineering Entrepreneurship. Rolando also, sub-matriculated into Penn’s Master of Biotechnology program in his fourth year and obtained his Master of Biotechnology degree specializing in Biopharmaceuticals/Engineering. At Penn, Rolando received recognition for both academic and leadership accomplishments. For 4 consecutive years, Rolando received the Award for Highest GPA by Penn’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Rolando also was the 2013 recipient of the W.E.B. Du Bois Endowed House Scholarship, an award that lasts the duration of the student’s career at Penn which is bestowed upon a student who demonstrated academic excellence, leadership abilities, and a commitment to the Du Bois College House. An advocate of student motivation and encouragement, Rolando also served as both a resident advisor and graduate associate for Penn’s W.E.B Du Bois college house.

Rolando also attained recognition outside of the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 2014, he was awarded the University of Miami’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), where he gained his initial exposure to the research atmosphere and culture of the university. During the SURF program, Rolando was trained in the lab of Dr. Kerry Burnstein where he learned to culture micro-tumoroids in an electrospun 3D synthetic polymer scaffold. As a SURF fellow in the lab of Dr. Burnstein, Rolando also learned about the nature and progression of prostate cancer, a disease which he has become deeply interested in since. His experiences in the lab and as a SURF fellow have had a great impact on his decision to pursue a PhD and more particularly in his decision to attend the University of Miami.

Rolando is currently a third year Cancer Biology PhD student at the University of Miami, where he studies castration resistant prostate cancer in the lab of Dr. Priyamvada Rai. Rolando serves as a senator and liaison for the program in the Graduate Student Association and Biomedical Graduate Student Government. Rolando is passionate about making medical science knowledge understandable and accessible to all audiences and is currently working on establishing a platform to best allow him to do so. As and after he completes his PhD, Rolando will continue to establish opportunities to encourage through mentorship and advocacy and to empower through accessible knowledge of health issues that that our communities live with.