News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 19 (tied): Paul Ichiro Terasaki

UCLA/Leslie Barton

Paul Ichiro Terasaki

Amount donated in 2010: $50-million

Beneficiary: University of California at Los Angeles

Donor’s background: Mr. Terasaki is a retired professor of surgery at University of California at Los Angeles who co-founded One Lambda, a Canoga Park, Calif., company that creates and markets human-tissue-type tests that are used in organ transplants.

Mr. Terasaki, 82, pledged $50-million to the University of California at Los Angeles. Of the total, Mr. Terasaki has directed that $48-million go toward a new life-sciences building, which will be named for him, and the remaining $2-million will endow a professorship in surgery in the David Geffen School of Medicine. A payment schedule was not available.

Mr. Terasaki earned three degrees from the university: A bachelor of arts degree in 1950, a masters of arts in 1952, and a Ph.D. in 1956.

Born in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, Mr. Terasaki was 12 when his family, like many Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, was forced by the federal government to live in an internment camp during World War II. After the war ended, the family moved from the Gila River camp, in Arizona, to Chicago, but eventually returned to Southern California in 1948.

Although not a surgeon, Mr. Terasaki worked as a professor of surgery at the university from 1969 to 1999. Through his research there he developed, in 1964, a test for tissue typing that analyzes the compatibility of organ donors and recipients. The test became the standard method used throughout the world for matching transplant donors and recipients.

In 2006 Mr. Terasaki gave the university $5-million for a program promoting a better understanding between Japan and the United States.

— Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.