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Paul I. Terasaki
In Memoriam

Paul I. Terasaki

Professor of Surgery

UC Los Angeles

Paul Terasaki has forever changed the face of medicine and given millions of people a second chance at life.

From an inauspicious childhood – he was relocated with his family from their Los Angeles home to an internment camp in Arizona – Terasaki's later academic and professional lives were defined by enormous success.

In 1948, at age 19, Terasaki enrolled at UCLA where later he would make medical history as a pioneer in the field of organ transplant medicine. He earned three degrees from UCLA and, after receiving his Ph.D., he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to work in London for a year under future Nobel Prize recipient Peter Medawar.

From 1955 to 1999, Terasaki worked at the UCLA Department of Surgery. He was director of UCLA's tissue typing laboratory, and in 1964 he developed a microtoxicity test that evaluates donor and recipient tissue compatibility, adopted as the international standard for tissue typing.

In 1984, Terasaki founded One Lambda, Inc., a company that supplies tissue typing and antibody detection reagents world-wide. They also creates lab instruments and computer software that aids testing. After starting the company, he stayed at UCLA and continued his transplant research for 16 years. At the time of his death, he was the chairman of the board for One Lambda.

Terasaki was promoted from researcher to professor of surgery at UCLA, a position he held from 1969 until 1999 when he retired. He continued his research and academic pursuits through the establishment of the Terasaki Foundation Laboratory in West Los Angeles.

A member of the World Health Organization and the British Transplantation Society, Terasaki has served as president of the international transplantation society and the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.

Terasaki has been a Bruin for more than 60 years – a student, researcher, professor and parent. His children spent a total of 21 years at UCLA. He received the UCLA Award for Professional Achievement in 1973 and the Medawar Prize from the international transplantation society in 1996, just two of the many prestigious awards he has received throughout his career. He is a member of both the UCLA Alumni Association and the UCLA Medical Alumni Association. He has served on the Foundation Board of Governors (2001-04) and Foundation Board of Councilors (2004-07).

Supporters of Japanese-American cultural relations, the Terasakis established the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at the UCLA International Institute in 2006. They further established the Nibei Foundation to encourage fellowship and partnership between Japanese and Japanese-American professors and doctors. Their philanthropy extends to the Japanese- American National Museum as well, which houses the Terasaki Orientation Theater and the Garden Café.

In 2010 Terasaki and his wife, Hisako, made a magnanimous $50 million gift to the UCLA Department of Life Sciences for construction of the Terasaki Life Sciences Building, with 33 state-of-the-art laboratories.

Terasaki passed away on Jan. 25, 2016, at the age of 86. He is survived by Hisako; their four children; six grandchildren, Mayumi, Paul, Kazuo, Susie, Kenta and Miya; and his brother, Richard.