Pacific remembers Professor Emeritus Donald Y. Shirachi

Professor Emeritus Donald Y. Shirachi ’60, PhD

Donald Y. Shirachi ’60, PhD

Aug. 8, 1932 - April 21, 2023


The life of Professor Emeritus Donald Y. Shirachi ’60, PhD can be characterized by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a steadfast support of students.

Born in Watsonville in 1932, at age 10, he and his family, along with other Japanese American families, were detained in internment camps during World War II. After the war, his family returned to Watsonville, where he finished high school. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Navy.

Dr. Shirachi earned his bachelor of science in pharmacy from University of the Pacific in 1960, his master of science in pharmacology from University of California, San Francisco in 1965 and his doctor of philosophy in pharmacology from Purdue University in 1968. After completing a U.S. Public Health postdoctoral research fellowship at UC San Francisco, he joined the Pacific faculty in 1971.

He taught at Pacific until 1993. In recognition of his years teaching and mentoring students, Dr. Shirachi was awarded the Order of Pacific, the University's highest honor. He is particularly remembered among alumni for teaching the physiology and pharmacology of endocrine function.

Students who interacted with him over the years, in the classroom or at the annual scholarship ceremony, remember him as an attentive listener and keen researcher. Dr. Shirachi’s research was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for almost a decade to investigate the carcinogenic potential of arsenic in drinking water. He also extensively researched the neuropharmacology of hyperbaric medicine, the use of air pressure to raise the level of oxygen in a patient’s body for therapeutic purposes.

His legacy will continue through the endowed scholarships established in his honor by Frank and Joyce Roscoe.