According to Endpoints News, Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home in Seattle on Aug. 4, 2021. Dr. Yamada had a storied career as a GI leader, educator and mentor before his work as a biotech pharma research chief and a global health advocate with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
AGA President John Inadomi, MD, tweeted “We lost a mentor, sponsor, role model and true pioneer in gastroenterology – Honor his legacy.” You can share your remembrances on the AGA Community.
Over the years, Tachi made enormous contributions to AGA. He served on multiple committees, too numerous to list. He served on the AGA Governing Board multiple times and as president.
He was awarded our highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, in 2003. At that time, Chung Owyang, MD, wrote a bio of Tachi and noted his critical role in shaping AGA and Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). He was the founding chair of the AGA Council working hard to reformat DDW into a major international event for our subspecialty. He was also among the group of AGA leaders who proposed the establishment of the AGA Foundation.
In 1996, Tachi assumed the presidency of AGA during a time of great turbulence in health care, where not only the practice but also the education and research missions of gastroenterology were threatened by change. Tachi took on the challenge with exemplary vision, energy and intelligence.
Dr. Dan Podolsky, a former AGA president commented at the time of Tachi’s Friedenwald Medal that “Tachi applied characteristic creativity and energy to all AGA activities. An inspirational leader, he was especially effective in promoting the AGA’s commitment to the career development of young gastroenterologists, promoting digestive diseases research and as a tireless advocate for the field of gastroenterology.”
“Tachi has not only led our field but he has been a global leader helping pharma rethink their role in global health, and helping the Gates Foundation save so many lives. He was soft-spoken but his worldwide contributions and vision will carry on. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” said Bishr Omary, MD, PhD, past president of AGA Institute.