Washington Update

AAPI Heritage Month: Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration

By: France-Elvie Banda
Thursday, April 28, 2022
This year’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month theme, set by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), encourages local and national governments to prioritize collaboration, development, diversity, transparency, and inclusion through leadership training of the AAPI community.  
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a time for us to reflect on the overlooked diversity of the AAPI community, a community historically forged through exclusion. The article “Asian Americans Then and Now,” details three waves of early Asian immigrants, from 1882 to 1935 who, despite contributing their labor to the development of the United States, were eventually denied entry and naturalization until 1952.  
Yet, throughout our nation’s history, there are countless examples of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made significant contributions to science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. The following individuals are a small sample of those who have secured their place in U.S. history: 
•   Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann, PhD (1937 – 2005),  a Filipina American microbiologist, whose research was used by NASA as an indication that microscopic life could exist on Mars. Ocampo-Friedmann’s work focused on cyanobacteria and microorganisms that live in extreme environments like the Ross Desert in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica.
•   Barry Paw, PhD (1962 – 2017), a Burmese American biologist, whose research with zebrafish led to identifying gene mutations that cause anemia. 
•   Noni Byrnes, PhD, born and raised in Pakistan, is Director of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under Byrnes’ leadership, CSR launched a new data-driven framework for the continuous evaluation of all of its more than 170 study sections, using quantitative measures and expert input from stakeholders in the scientific community.