Remembering Catalys Pacific Industry Advisor Tadataka ‘Tachi’ Yamada, MD (1945-2021) August 9, 2021
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our dear Advisor, Dr. Tachi Yamada. Tachi was incremental to the founding vision of Catalys Pacific and, in every breath, every encounter, and every creation, Tachi embodied our craftsmanship and values.
Tachi was a visionary, a doctor, a leader, an entrepreneur, a scholar and a teacher. Regardless of it was in academia, industry, global health, or venture capital, he transformed ideas into reality with passion, purpose and ethics. Equally he was a dedicated husband, loving father, and joyous grandfather who always emphasized the centricity of family to life and humanity.
Tachi spent his life traveling between Japan and the United States as a student, physician, academic, executive, entrepreneur, and leader. He was born in Japan in 1945, the final year of the war, and first left for the United States to attend high school at Phillips Academy. He thereafter attended Stanford where he studied history and then attended medical school at NYU where he fell in love in with clinical medicine. Throughout his educative years, he returned to Japan between semesters to see family and friends. Following medical school, Tachi stayed in academia as a physician-scientist and tenured at the University of Michigan where he stayed for 13 years culminating in his chairmanship of medicine.
Tachi left academia to have an impact on patients’ lives through the advancement of science and drug development at GSK, transforming the company’s R&D organization and culture. Having been witness to the inequities of health when Nelson Mandela fought for his country’s right to antiretroviral therapies for HIV/AIDS, Tachi realized the need for innovation in global health and the potential to impact billions of lives in poverty. He departed GSK to accept a position as President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and grew the organization into one of the world’s leading global health players. In 2013, he left the foundation and joined Takeda as CSMO and again transformed their R&D organization, revitalizing their pipeline and creating a vaccine business from the ground up. For the past several years, after leaving Takeda, he galvanized his decades of leadership, strategy, and insights in the creation of companies as a venture partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners and advisor at Catalys Pacific. Companies he co-founded include Phathom Pharmaceuticals, which licensed in a novel therapeutic from Japan for its development in the US and Europe.
Tachi’s ikigai, an African Proverb, was “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – a constant reminder that we must always rely on our partners to address big challenges.
Tachi will always be remembered by his compassion for people and passion for patient impact. He will always be remembered in the work of Catalys Pacific and our vision to advance science into innovation for patients through transpacific partnership.