Lydia Villa-Komaroff

Diabetics around the world are kept alive thanks to the work of this week’s WiSE Wednesday honoree, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, who helped discover a way to produce insulin from bacteria. Born in Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1947, she received a PhD in molecular biology from MIT in 1975, making her the third Mexican American woman to receive a scientific PhD in the US. She has dedicated much of her life to making sure that she is far from the last, co-founding The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), which helps increase the representation of minorities in science. In her words, “Science, and our society, are stronger when the people doing science reflect our society as a whole.” Villa-Komaroff has had a very successful, and diverse career, researching growth factors and development, teaching at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and Harvard, directing research for multiple research institutions and serving on the board of biotechnology companies. This week, she was named an honorary national co-chair of the March for Science, a role in which she hopes to raise awareness of the need for diversity in STEM.