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Dr. Lee performing surgery with a resident.
Kendal Lee, M.D., Ph.D., consultant in neurologic surgery, performing surgery with a resident.

May 12, 2022

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff


The month of May recognizes the heritages of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and Jewish Americans. Throughout the month, the Office for Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Mayo Clinic will share facts, articles, and featured profiles to demonstrate the richness of AAPI and Jewish American cultures.

The following are some of the featured profiles of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Jewish American individuals who work or learn at Mayo Clinic.

Yeng (Fransoua) Her, M.D., Ph.D.Yeng (Fransoua) Her, M.D. Ph.D.

Dr. Her is a resident physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He is the first Hmong American to receive M.D.-Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology. He started his research career in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences under the mentorship of Dr. Jim Maher, Ph.D., where he stayed for his graduate work. During his Ph.D. program, he was also trained in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program. 

"I am Hmong," shares Dr. Her about his ethnic origin. "The Hmong are from Southern China. However, my father was born in Vietnam, and my mother was born in Laos. Because of the Vietnam War, I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand."

"The proudest achievement in my professional career is graduating with my M.D.-Ph.D." says Dr. Her. "Never in my wildest dreams as a child growing up in the refugee camps in Thailand would I have thought that I would have this opportunity to go to medical school and graduate school, get advanced training, and help people at the specialty level that I get to today."

Read more.

Satsuki Yamada, M.D. Ph.D.Satsuki Yamada, M.D. Ph.D.

Dr. Yamada is a physician-scientist in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. She is also an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. Her ethnic background is Japanese.

"My mother's ancestors had been farmers dating back to the early 17th century in Fukushima, in the north part of Japan," shares Dr. Yamada. "My interests in pursuing a career in medical science were inspired by Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, a native of Fukushima, a bacteriologist at the Rockefeller Institute in New York in the early 20th century. He ended his life in Africa on a research mission. My grandparents highly respected Dr. Noguchi. There was a bust statue of Dr. Noguchi in their living room, and I can't count how many times we visited the Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall. My grandparents passed away before I became a physician/scientist. If they could visit me and Mayo Clinic, I hope my grandparents would be proud of me and smile when they see Dr. Noguchi's portrait in my office."

Thinking of her biggest challenge, she says "like many young physicians/scientists, I started my professional career with unrealistic big ambitions and soon found out that discovering something meaningful is not easy. I felt, especially when I was a Ph.D. student, that I was wandering dark woods where there were harsh judges at every exit and never let me out. My mentors and colleagues have guided me to accept failures, listen to constructive critics, and keep pressing on."

Read more.

About the Office for Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

At Mayo Clinic, the Office for Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recognizes that the contributions of every individual is essential to success in patient care, education, and research. The office strives to maintain and further develop a learning environment in which individual differences are valued, allowing all staff and students to achieve their fullest potential.

To read and learn more about recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month at Mayo Clinic, visit the Office for Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s social media channels — FacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.