Dennis Sasaki '71

Distinguished Alumni (2015)

Dennis Sasaki ’71 is a senior staff scientist and associate director of the Flow Cytometry Core Laboratory at Becton-Dickinson (BD) Biosciences in San Diego, California.

With nearly 40 years of experience in his field, Dennis has accomplished many things. One of his notable achievements was developing and implementing the first surrogate testing for HIV-AIDS using flow cytometry (FACS), a laser-based technology that rapidly analyzes physical and chemical characteristics in blood, two years before an actual HIV test was developed and used. Over 33,000 blood donations were screened using Dennis’ flow cytometry technique, saving countless people from receiving tainted blood donations. He also co-developed the world’s first clinical high speed cell sorter. This cell sorter finds and isolates stem cells to use in cell therapy, which is similar to bone marrow transplantation. His device was issued a US patent, and was used in several clinical trials for multiple myeloma and breast cancer as part of a study in the US and France.

Dennis has authored, co-authored, or contributed articles to over 50 scientific journals. He has mentored dozens of promising scientists and engineers who are highly regarded and have gone on to manage their own laboratories.

Dennis grew up in Aiea and entered HBA in seventh grade. Following his education at HBA, Dennis received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Seattle Pacific College. He then went on to Baylor University where he received his master’s degree in biological sciences (microbiology) through a graduate teaching fellowship. He also studied product marketing and management at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business.

Dennis currently resides in San Diego and plans to retire in Bellingham, Washington, in 2016. His wife, Connie, who retired as a human resource specialist, is now a certified dog groomer. They have two sons, Christopher and Shaun, and three dogs. Dennis’ younger brother, Curtis ’74, is the senior vice president at Samsung Electronics.

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