Madison man is first Hmong-American to get an M.D.-Ph.D.

When Yeng Her’s mother’s kidneys failed, she wanted to try herbs and shaman rituals. But a Madison doctor said that without dialysis, she would die.

Her was 16, a junior at Memorial High School, the oldest of four children born in a refugee camp. As he fought to keep his mother alive, he struggled to translate language and culture between his Hmong family and Western medical providers.

“I felt powerless,” he said. “That lit a fire inside of me to go into medicine and try to bridge these gaps.”

Her is believed to be the first Hmong-American to get an M.D.-Ph.D., after receiving the degrees last month at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

He plans to return next year to UW-Madison, where he got his bachelor’s degree, to do a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UW Health. He will also pursue research on using stem cells to treat chronic pain.