Asian Pacific American Heritage Month originates from a Congressional act in 1978, establishing Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.1,2 In 1992, another Congressional act designated the month of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.1 At the time, there were almost 8 million people in the United States with Asian and Pacific Island heritage.2 The 2010 U.S. Census tallied the population of Asians and Pacific Islanders to be over 15 million.3

Image source (4)

The term Asia/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island)1. (Not all nations shown in the map above.)

The following are a few highlights, not an exhaustive, discussion of the tremendous contributions of the Asian Pacific community. This is one way ASCB honors the diversity of the scientific workforce.

If you have contributions that could be added to these lists, please email


Examples of Asian Firsts in Science

  • Jokichi Takamine isolated epinephrine (adrenaline) from the suprarenal gland in 1901.5
  • An Wang invented pulse transfer controlling device leading to magnetic core memory in 1949.6
  • Flossie Wong-Staal, former ASCB member, cloned the AIDS virus in 1984.7


Examples of Ancient Achievements

  • Read about the DNA of ancient Pacific Island mariners in this Science article.
  • Learn about the impressive technology of Ancient China here.


Room for More Progress: the “Bamboo Ceiling”

Read more about Asian and Americans under-represented at executive-levels in science and technology.

Check out last month’s highlight on International Scientists.




  1. The Library of Congress. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Available at: // (Accessed: 27th April 2017)
  2. Horton, F. H.J.Res.1007 – 95th Congress (1977-1978): Joint resolution authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim the 7-day period beginning on May 4, 1979, as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week’. (1978).
  3. The U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder – Community Facts. Available at: (Accessed: 27th April 2017)
  4. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego Available at: (Accessed: 27th April 2017)
  5. The Time Line: Adrenalin and cherry trees. Available at: (Accessed: 27th April 2017)
  6. Computer Pioneers – An Wang. Available at: (Accessed: 27th April 2017)
  7. Flossie Wong-Staal ’68, Ph.D. ’72 |. Available at: (Accessed: 27th April 2017)