Foster Scholar Risheng Ye’s Research Inspires His Pursuit of a Medical Career

In 2007, El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster donated $50 million to help create the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. His gift has also funded the tuition of dozens of medical students, known as the Foster Scholars. This academic year, the Foster Scholars program has awarded 90 students scholarships totaling $1.8 million; 78 students have received $15,000 Foster Scholarships, and 12 students have received $1,000 scholarships along with a non-resident tuition waiver.

Risheng Ye, class of 2022.

Risheng Ye, class of 2021.

One student benefiting from a $15,000 scholarship is Risheng Ye, class of 2021.

“My previous career and experiences as a biological scientist eventually built up my determination to pursue a medical career,” Ye said. “Ever since my Ph.D. studies at the University of Southern California, I have exerted tremendous efforts in identifying novel therapeutic targets for human diseases such as diabetes, acute pancreatitis and cancer.”

After graduating from USC, Ye worked as a postdoctoral researcher and assistant instructor at the Touchstone Diabetes Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Having studied the basic mechanisms underlying human diseases for more than a decade, Ye felt more and more intensively the gap between his knowledge and his ability to actually help patients.

“I was able to talk about all the general principles about diabetes, but not a single piece of practical guidelines,” Ye said. “I felt strongly urged to fill this gap and help patients directly with my knowledge and skills, and steered away from my original career path to be an independent investigator of biomedical science.”

While pursuing his medical degree, Ye has kept up his research skills.

“My most recent project is to dissect the effects and mechanisms of fibrates – an important class of drugs for treating dyslipidemia – in different tissues, such as liver, adipose and the insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells,” Ye said. Dyslipidemia refers to a high level of lipids (fats) in the blood.

Ye is presenting his results from this research at the American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions, June 7-11, in San Francisco.

Ye is thankful for the opportunity a Foster scholarship has given him.

“Without this exemplary medical school, I would have found no entrance into an M.D. career after years of efforts,” Ye said. “I was so proud to be accepted by the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. Furthermore, the Foster scholarship has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family.

“As the father of two children, I would have struggled a lot more, were it not for the Foster scholarship,” Ye said.