Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/459/

Developing the micro test was the most important accomplishment

Well, I suppose the micro test, developing the micro test was the most important thing I did. I often wondered that… See, I was maybe 35 years old, so why is it that I couldn’t do anything better after that? I had another 40 years and all during that time, I worked pretty hard. And how come I couldn’t do anything better than that? Somehow I guess I didn’t. Maybe it’s true in a lot of people that when they’re young, they’re able to do the thing that maybe can’t do when they’re older.

So the five years before that, I think I really worked the hardest in my life—that was after coming back from England and trying to develop the tests. So working those 18 hour days, I was finally able to make the micro tests. And the micro test allowed the development of the HLA field—typing of transplant patients, standardizing HLA1.

For example, we standardized why sharing cells through out the world couldn’t be done without the micro test. So even though the micro tests today are replaced by DNA technology, it was critical for the early development of this field. And we couldn’t have, in one step, jumped to the DNA even if the knowledge was there.

So I feel that maybe that was the best I did. And well, I’m happy that I had the chance to do that.

1. HLA is the acronym for human leukocyte antigen, a genetic maker found on cells of the body that determine white blood cell types. The HLA system is used to assess tissue compatibility for organ transplantation and platelet transfusion. There are over ten thousand HLA types.


medicine

Date: February 10, 2004

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Gwenn M. Jensen

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Paul Terasaki, born in 1929, is a UCLA Medical Professor Emeritus and a pioneer in tissue transfer research who continues to speak globally on tissue typing and organ transplantation. In 1991 he edited a volume entitled History of Transplantation: Thirty-five Recollections.

He and his wife Hisako, a renowned painter, take a strong interest in U.S.-Japan relations and the affairs of the Japanese American community. Together they established an endowment at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center to fund fellowships for UCLA graduate students from Japan pursuing research on the historical and contemporary experiences and issues of the Japanese American population. Additionally, a Paul I. Terasaki Endowed Chair in U.S.-Japan Relations supports a distinguished teaching program designed to bring experts in the field of Japanese studies and U.S.-Japan relations to UCLA. (February 10, 2004)

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