Meet Dr. Ye Yuan

Written by Dr. Kamilah Grant and Dr. Dawit Tesfaye (SSR Diversity Committee) in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPIH) Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPIH) month. The SSR Diversity Committee is participating in this celebration. For this, Dr. Kamilah Grant and Dr. Dawit Tesfaye (members of the SSR Diversity Committee) interviewed Dr. Ye Yuan from Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM). Enjoy the reading.

What is your current position, and what does it entail?

I’m the Research Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM), a leading national fertility clinic network focusing on fertility treatment and research. My team is responsible for quality control and clinical media production to support the CCRM network clinics. We also conduct many research projects and clinical trials. My role at CCRM is to expand the knowledge from basic and translational research to improve assisted reproductive technologies, making assisted reproduction more efficient, accessible, and affordable to IVF patients. Outside my role at CCRM, I am an affiliate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. I have the opportunity to mentor research staff and students, conduct research and publish papers, give lectures, review articles and grant proposals, and organize scientific meetings. I also have the privilege to develop strategic plans for the growth of the organization, interact with physicians and embryologists to design and conduct clinical trials to improve IVF success, and advocate to the community why scientific research plays a crucial role in advancing reproductive medicine and ultimately benefit IVF patients and all women’s health.

Can you talk a little bit about yourself, where are you from? What first attracted you to the world of science? And how did you get to be in your current position?

I am from China. I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at China Agricultural University, then I moved to the United States and completed my Ph.D. in Animal Science at the University of Illinois-Urbana with Dr. Rebecca Krisher. I continued my education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, working as a postdoc with Dr. Michael Roberts and then as a research faculty before joining CCRM. My passion for science and making a real impact to the world made me decide to work at CCRM, a place where I can continue performing basic research and conducting clinical studies at the same time.

My recollection of the earliest time I had access to the world of science is through a book series of Children’s Encyclopedia. I was obsessed with the biology section, which I read over and over again, while some books on other topics were never touched. I particularly appreciate my open-minded parents, who gave me good guidance but were not restrictive about what I had to learn and how I should spend my time at an early age. I read a variety of books, spent lots of time in the wild digging worms, had more than enough time to play sports, and fostered my curiosity about things I’m interested in. I had never been an excellent student at school, and doing just ok in exams that allowed me to go to college. The freedom my parents offered was quite unusual for kids growing up at that time. This environment made me a curious, self-driven, and independent thinker. My curiosity about the unknown never faded and guided me to who I am today.

What are you most excited to do this year?

The development of clinical protocols for human oocyte in vitro maturation (IVM) is the one that’s most exciting. With better understanding of oocyte physiology and the requirement for in vitro culture, we now can offer a very effective IVM protocol to allow patients with high antral follicle count, particularly these experience polycystic ovary syndrome, have high successful rate in IVF cycles and have healthy babies. Human oocyte IVM requires no or minimal hormone injections to the patients, offering less discomfort, lower cost, higher patient satisfaction to many patients.

Are there ways in which you think your heritage has affected your perspective or career trajectory?

My heritage of being growing up in China and educated in both China and the US has fundamental impacts on my perspective and career. I have been shaped by the collective knowledge and experiences from both Chinese and American cultures. The strong emphasis on hard work and ambition in both cultures and the diverse cultural perspectives allows me to be determined, open minded, inclusive, and have better cultural understanding and empathy to provide better leadership in an organization that need to integrate diverse talents and ideas for innovation.     

What words of inspiration would you like to share with the future generation of scientists, especially those coming from diverse backgrounds?

Be true to yourself and be curious. For folks coming from diverse backgrounds, you are empowered by different cultures and enriched living experiences, embrace the mosaic of knowledge and perspectives to ignite and propel innovation.   

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