Remembering Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada

Remembering Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada

August 11, 2021

We are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Dr. Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada.

Tachi was born and raised in Japan, and came to the United States at age 15. Throughout his career, he often recalled a promise he made his father: that he would one day do something meaningful in Japan. This promise led him to Takeda, first as an advisor to then-CEO Yasu Hasegawa and then leading Takeda’s research and development (R&D) organization. With tireless focus and leadership, he also played an integral role in developing Entyvio and helped establish the company’s global vaccine business unit.

Tachi’s warmth, keen intellect and passionate commitment to patients will continue to serve as an inspiration to those who worked with him at Takeda.

“I first met Tachi at one of our regular management meetings where we formed a lasting friendship. A visionary who always put patients and people first, he generously shared his knowledge, expertise and advice with me and many others at Takeda," said Masato Iwasaki, Representative Director, Japan General Affairs at Takeda.

“I spent a lot of time with Tachi during my onboarding at Takeda. As a departing leader, he was fully committed to both the company and my success,” said Andy Plump, President, R&D at Takeda. “I could always sense how proud he was of the time he spent at Takeda – he cared deeply about our organization and our people. He was an incredible person and a true leader who was so committed to making a difference.”

Through his earlier experiences in the industry and global health, Tachi understood that vaccines are a powerful tool that could have lasting positive impact on individuals, families and communities. He helped Takeda’s vaccine business establish a global pipeline around two key vaccine candidates, for norovirus and dengue. The dengue vaccine he supported is now being filed for licensure around the globe, and through his most recent role as a venture partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners (Frazier), he helped Frazier and Takeda launch HilleVax, a collaboration between the two companies to continue the development of our norovirus vaccine candidate.

“Tachi was a physician-scientist whose focus was always on the patient and doing everything possible to improve health, and always with a sense of urgency,” said Rajeev Venkayya, President, Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda. “That mindset infused everything he did, in academia, industry and global health. I’m deeply grateful for everything he has taught me, the opportunities he has given me, and the inspiration I will continue to carry with me.”

“I was fortunate to work with Tachi back in 2003, and was immediately inspired by his passion and dedication to patients,” added Christophe Weber, President and CEO of Takeda.

Prior to joining Takeda, Tachi held several leadership roles in life sciences, including President of Global Health at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chairman of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, as well as serving as  Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. 

We send our heartfelt condolences to Tachi’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time. He will truly be missed but his legacy and lasting impact will live on.