By Judy Lin
Paul Terasaki, a UCLA alumnus, professor emeritus of surgery and pioneer in organ transplant medicine, has contributed $5 million to support contemporary Japanese studies at UCLA. His gift is acknowledged in the renaming of the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at UCLA's International Institute.
"Paul and Hisako Terasaki have long been strong supporters of Japanese studies at UCLA," said professor Fred Notehelfer, center director. "Their gift will assure UCLA's place in the field of Japanese Studies nationally."
Terasaki, who was born in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, spent three high school years during World War II interned with his family in the Gila River, Ariz., relocation camp. He went on to receive his doctorate in zoology at UCLA, became a professor of surgery at UCLA's School of Medicine and developed a tissue-typing test for organ transplant donors and recipients: the micro lymphocytotoxicity test, which was adopted as the international standard for tissue typing. He and his corporation, One Lambda, have played a central role in the development of tissue typing and transplantation surgery.
Terasaki also established the UCLA Kidney Transplant Registry, the largest in the world. In 1999, he retired from UCLA, but within a year resumed his academic pursuits with the creation of the Terasaki Foundation, a research center dedicated to cancer immunotherapy and the study of humoral immunity and transplantation.
Terasaki's interests in Japan scholarship began during his early years as a researcher, he said, when he began to be invited to scientific conferences in Japan to speak about his work. These travels, he said, made clear to him how very dissimilar the American and Japanese cultures are.
"I saw a great need for mutual understanding," he said.
His gift to UCLA is intended to promote the cultivation of a new generation of Japan scholars.
The center was created in 1991. Notehelfer at that time noted, "With the retirement and death of many of America's wartime-trained generation of Japan scholars — who served as the leading voices of the Japan field for the past five decades — and with the economic competition for students with knowledge of the Japanese language by American and Japanese businesses, there is now a critical shortage of trained Japan specialists in this country."
In the 15 years since its inception, the center has played an important part in rebuilding the field of Japanese studies. In areas such as Japanese history, UCLA has produced more than two dozen new scholars, all of whom are now teaching at major American universities. UCLA's Asian history field, of which the study of Japan is a part, is one of the most highly ranked programs in the country. Nevertheless, a critical need for well-grounded Japan scholars continues, Notehelfer said.
The Terasaki endowment will enhance UCLA's Japanese Studies Program in several areas. These include the establishment of the Paul I. And Hisako Terasaki Chair in Contemporary Japanese Studies, graduate and postdoctoral fellowships that will bring to UCLA some of the best emerging scholars in Japanese studies in the United States., relationship-building with other universities and think tanks, and outreach to include K 12 education and community efforts that focus on contemporary Japan and the Japanese American community.
The center supports a wide range of activities relating to Japan, including extensive fellowship support for graduate students working in Japanese studies in a variety of fields, research support for UCLA faculty members working on Japan, annual conferences dealing with Japanese subjects, a colloquium series that brings to Los Angeles some of the leading figures in Japanese studies nationally, and media and library support. For more information, see www.international.ucla.edu/japan.
The Paul I. Terasaki Foundation gift is part of UCLA's Ensuring Academic Excellence initiative, a five year effort aimed at generating $250 million in private commitments specifically for the recruitment and retention of the very best faculty and graduate students. The initiative was launched in June 2004 and its goals include $100 million to fund 100 new endowed chairs for faculty across campus, $100 million for fellowships and scholarships in the College of Letters and Science, and $50 million for fellowships and scholarships in UCLA's professional schools.
UCLA's International Institute is committed to the education of global citizens through its degree programs; through the people-to-people linkages it fosters among students, scholars and citizens around the globe; and through its commitment to helping people everywhere become lifelong learners about their world. For more information, visit www.international.ucla.edu.
California's largest university, UCLA enrolls approximately 38,000 students per year and offers degrees from the UCLA College of Letters and Science and 11 professional schools in dozens of varied disciplines. UCLA consistently ranks among the top five universities and colleges nationwide in total research-and-development spending, receiving more than $820 million a year in competitively awarded federal and state grants and contracts. For every $1 state taxpayers invest in UCLA, the university generates almost $9 in economic activity, resulting in an annual $6 billion economic impact on the Greater Los Angeles region. The university's health care network treats 450,000 patients per year. UCLA employs more than 27,000 faculty and staff, has more than 321,000 living alumni, and has been home to five Nobel Prize recipients.