By JCVI Staff

Celebrating innovation: pioneering AANHPI scientists who changed the world

May marks Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich contributions of these communities across all fields, particularly in science.

The AANHPI community is incredibly diverse, encompassing many cultures and ethnicities. Diversity of thought is crucial for scientific progress. AANHPI scientists bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table, fostering a more holistic approach to research. Their expansive cultural backgrounds lead to innovative solutions and approaches to complex scientific problems. Additionally, seeing scientists who share their heritage allows young individuals to envision themselves in those roles. Representation acts as a powerful motivator, inspiring them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

This month, we take a moment to highlight some of the many inspiring AANHPI leaders who are shaping the landscape of science and whose groundbreaking research has had a profound impact on our world.

  • Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett: A viral immunologist who played a critical role in the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Her tireless research efforts have had a profound impact on the global pandemic response.
  • Dr. Michelle Aquino: A biochemist who specializes in gene editing technologies like CRISPR. Her work holds immense potential for developing new treatments for genetic diseases.
  • Dr. Pius Pang: An oncologist who has made significant contributions to our understanding of cancer biology and the development of targeted cancer therapies.
  • Dr. Nainoa Thompson: A marine biologist who studies coral reef ecosystems. His research is crucial for understanding and protecting these vital marine environments.
  • Dr. Sumaira Malik: A physician-scientist who focuses on personalized medicine and developing treatments tailored to individual patients' genetic profiles.
  • Dr. David Ho: A world-renowned HIV/AIDS researcher who pioneered the use of combination drug therapy, significantly improving the lives of patients with HIV.
  • Dr. Karen Murabito: An epidemiologist who studies the factors that contribute to healthy aging, particularly among Asian American populations.
  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee: A physician and oncologist, Dr. Mukherjee's research on cancer has shed light on the genetic and cellular basis of the disease.
  • Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott: The first Native Hawaiian woman to earn a Ph.D. in science, Dr. Abbott is a pioneering ethnobotanist who discovered over 200 new species of Pacific algae.

These individuals represent just a fraction of the remarkable AANHPI scientists who have shaped the scientific landscape. Their dedication, brilliance, and perseverance have led to groundbreaking discoveries, improved lives around the world, and paved the way for future generations of scientists.

By recognizing the achievements of these pioneers, we hope more AANHPI individuals are encouraged to pursue careers in science and contribute their unique perspectives to the ever-evolving world of scientific discovery.

Here are some more resources if you're interested in exploring Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on your own: