At the beginning of January— the start of a new year and new decade— Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, shift7, and the Female Quotient launched #20for2020 to elevate the stories of extraordinary achievements by women. SACNAS founding member, scientist, and leader Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff was featured for her groundbreaking work on how to produce insulin from bacteria. At the time of her research, insulin was produced from horse and pig pancreases. Dr. Villa-Komaroff’s scientific contributions essentially solved the world’s problem of insulin unavailability.
The profile details Dr. Villa-Komaroff’s research, her story as one of the first Mexican-Americans to obtain a PhD in the sciences, and her drive to help found SACNAS.
The full piece is available online here.
“Lydia became one of the first few Mexican Americans to obtain a PhD, which she accomplished at MIT. Throughout the course of a very accomplished career, Lydia was part of additional scientific breakthroughs beyond her work on insulin, including demonstrating the first direct evidence that the beta amyloid protein is toxic to neurons, which may have implications for Alzheimer’s disease. She also demonstrated that three proteins that regulate gene expression are expressed during the critical period in development where the brain must be exposed to light if an infant is to develop op vision.”
The authors of Dr. Villa-Komaroff’s profile and the architects of the #20for2020 project state, “Media needs to regularly represent the innovative work of diverse individuals and teams in an empowering manner in order to shift the public mindset to one that respects that there is innovation talent in all people, including in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Surfacing diverse talent will help empower current solution makers to learn or team up with colleagues who can create and use these tools, thereby accelerating progress on societal challenges.”