Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff was born into a Mexican family in Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 7, 1947. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle as a chemistry major. After being told that women did not belong in chemistry, she switched her major to biology. She moved to Washington D.C. in 1967 and married Anthony Komaroff, in 1970. She received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Goucher College and moved to Boston with her husband to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT, Dr. Villa-Komaroff completed graduate work in molecular biology. In 1973, she became a founding member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. After completing her PhD in cell biology in 1975, she moved on to Harvard University to conduct postdoctoral research in recombinant DNA technology. In 1977, she joined the insulin cloning team, and in 1978, she became the first author of a landmark report showing that bacteria could be induced to make proinsulin. The research was a milestone in the development of the biotechnology industry. Her numerous awards and honors include the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement award, induction into the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Hall of Fame, National Hispanic Scientist of the Year from The Museum of Science and Industry, and the Women of Distinction award from the American Association of University Women.
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