In Memoriam: Dr. Paul I. Terasaki
Monday, February 01, 2016
Dr. Paul I. Terasaki, 86, HLA Transplant Pioneer and Professor of Surgery at UCLA passed away on Monday, January 25, 2016 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was born on September 10, 1929 in Los Angeles, California to Shuhei George Terasaki and Hanako Kaya.
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued executive order 9066, sending the Terasaki family, along with tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, to relocation camps in scattered locations throughout the country. Interred at the Gila River Relocation Camp in Arizona, he spent three of his formative high school years while there. At the end World War II, the family was released and subsequently moved to Chicago, IL where he graduated from Hyde Park High School.
Following the advice of his parents, Terasaki enrolled at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier as a pre-med student for two years. In 1948 the family, unable to deal with the cold weather in Chicago, returned to Southern California where he transferred to UCLA and earned his Bachelor’s, Masters and Ph.D degrees in Zoology.
After receiving his Ph.D, Dr. Terasaki was hired by the UCLA Department of Surgery, where he met Professor William Longmire, one of the founders of the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Longmire supported the research work of Dr. Terasaki and played a pivotal role in assisting Terasaki in obtaining a post-doctoral position in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Sir Peter Medawar, at the University College in London. His work with Professor Medawar would set the tone for his future research in transplantation.
In 1964, Dr. Terasaki introduced the microcytotoxicity test at the international conference of scientists held at Duke University in North Carolina, revolutionizing the field of transplantation. It was ultimately adopted as the international standard for genetically matching transplant patients and recipients. In 1969, Dr. Terasaki officially established the UCLA Tissue Typing Laboratory, directing the laboratory until his retirement in 1999. For nearly 50 years, he has additionally focused on the study of the humoral theory of transplant rejection, which states that antibodies cause allograft rejection.
Following his retirement from UCLA, he founded the Terasaki Foundation, a research center dedicated to cancer immunotherapy and the study of humoral immunity and transplantation.
In 1984, he founded One Lambda, Inc., a transplant diagnostic company, to develop and provide transplant centers worldwide with the tools needed to better match their patients and monitor them pre/post-transplant. In 2012, he sold One Lambda, Inc. to Thermo Fisher Scientific.
An inspirational role model, Dr. Terasaki published many books, wrote numerous scientific papers and served on several editorial boards in the field of transplantation, as well as received many awards, including the prestigious Medawar Prize. The prize, named after Dr. Terasaki’s mentor, Sir Peter Medawar, recognizes an outstanding investigator whose contributions had a profound influence on the field of organ transplantation and is awarded by The International Transplantation Society. In 2003, the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) established the Paul I. Terasaki Clinical Science Award, which recognizes a transplant clinician whose scientific contributions have had a major impact in the field of transplantation.
Throughout his life, Dr. Terasaki, along with his wife Hisako, was committed to preserving the history of Japanese Americans in the Unites States. He served on numerous committees, as well as contributed generously to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, The Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II in Washington D.C., and the establishment of the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at the UCLA International Institute. In the field of science, the Terasaki’s were major contributors to UCLA, leading to the creation of the Terasaki Life Science Building and the Paul I. Terasaki Chair in Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In 1998, he established the Nibei Foundation in Los Angeles which offers postdoctoral Japanese physicians who come to the United States an opportunity to meet and participate in research projects with Los Angeles based Japanese/American physicians.
Dr. Terasaki is survived by his wife Hisako, his four children, Mark, Keith, Taiji, Emiko, six grandchildren and his brother Richard Terasaki.
The ASHI community will commemorate the memory of Dr. Terasaki and his contributions to our field throughout the coming year. We invite you to share your personal thoughts and stories in the comments section below.
For someone like me who started with Dr. Marilena Fotino at the New York Blood Center in the mid 1970s and still carrying on with Dr. M. Suthanthiran at the Rogosin Institute, Dr. Terasaki is nothing short of a liberator- saving us from the misery of glass slides and jewelry boxes and about fifteen years later shielding us from the crunch of centralization. Ever thankful to that gentle soul for all that. With a heavy heart, SHH the tissue typing God is asleep!
Arvind Menon, M.S.
The Rogosin Institute
As everyone in our field, I was touched when I learned that Dr. Terasaki has passed away.
The Brazilian Transplantation Society and the Brazilian Histocompatibility Association asked me to write about him. I did it and my text is now on their website and it will be published on their journals (in portuguese, of course).
Yesterday when I received your message I started to wonder if the English version of my text could be of interest for ASHI.
I am now submitting it to you. If you feel that it is appropriate for ASHI, please feel free to use it.
With my best regards,
Lab of Transplantation Immunology
Santa Casa Hospital
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Click here to read the article.
Click here for short article written by Michael Cecka.
Click here for an article written by J.C. Rosenberg, MD, PhD
Click here for an article written by Phil Halloran