City of Hope’s Dr. Monty Pal shares his love of science with the community and passion for music with his kids.
According to Dr. Monty Pal, one of the greatest things about being a father is sharing your interests with your children.
“I really love that the passions I have are being handed down to the kiddos,” says the oncologist. And Pal has some pretty exciting passions to hand down.
He lives in Brea with his 8-year-old son, Aarav, 6-year-old daughter, Aria, and his wife, Reena, where the family shares in his love of teaching and ’90s rock.
As co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program and head of the kidney and bladder cancer disease team, he has spearheaded innovations in the field and maintained one of the largest portfolios of clinical trials for kidney and bladder cancer research on the West Coast. Pal aims to stimulate collaborative research to discover novel therapeutic approaches for incurable diseases.
“I am quite excited about a lot of the work that we’re doing related to the microbiome,” he says. “The bacteria that lines patients’ guts can be an important indicator of response to treatment and we are now at that place where we might be able to manipulate the microbiome and the treatment outcome.”
Pal studied at UCLA and was drawn to City of Hope’s developments in technologies involving monoclonal antibodies. He shared his love of science during lockdown, when he began hosting a Zoom science class for his young nieces, nephews and neighborhood kids as a way to impart his knowledge to the community.
“It was supposed to be a two- or three-month deal and it has actually lasted for about a year and a half now.”
The science class also inspired Aarav and Aria to start a class of their own.
“My kids are actually teaching a foreign language class,” says Pal. “They know Hindi through lessons that my grandmother has given them. So the kids and my wife have teamed up to teach a Hindi class.”
The students they work with are all 8 years old and under, and Pal says he is constantly impressed with how engaging his children are as teachers.
“If could get them to behave as well as they do during their 30-minute foreign language class, it would be a real feat,” he says. “They have this amazing level of maturity for about 30 minutes.”
And they aren’t just learning how to be great teachers from Dad. They are also getting a musical education.
“I am a huge fan of ‘90s rock … Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam,” Pal says.
So when the family needs to unwind, they gather in the garage for a jam session. Pal on guitar, of course.
“My son is turning out to be an amazing drummer,” he says. His daughter has taken to playing bass, and both kids have latched onto his musical taste.
“When we are driving around in the car, it’s not unusual for them to say, ‘Hey Dad, can you play some Weezer for us?’ That’s how I know I have really left my mark.”
But Pal says the real hero is his wife.
“During this pandemic, she has just done an amazing job,” says Pal.
Besides supporting his career, Reena manages the kids at home, helps the family with the logistics of running their respective online classes and has her own job as well.
“Her whole MO is helping facilitate all of our dreams,” Pal says. “I think I would be in a very different position if I didn’t have someone as thoughtful and supportive. Without her, nothing the family does would be possible.”