Lydia Villa-Komaroff among 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America

October 16, 2003

Tags: Awards + Announcements

BALTIMORE, Md. — Whitehead Institute’s Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer Lydia Villa-Komaroff has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine.

According to the magazine, the Influentials list includes “high-profile achievers and behind the scenes powerbrokers” from industry, academia, entertainment, and other organizations who occupy influential leadership positions and whose work has had recent, national impact.

“Salsa, not ketchup, is now the number one condiment in the United States,” says Villa-Komaroff. “My colleagues and I on this list hope to put more salsa in America’s board rooms and in academic leadership. It is a great honor to be included in this list.”

The largest group on the list (35 of the 100) comes from corporate and entrepreneurial sectors. Leaders from government and academia, like Villa-Komaroff, were also well represented with 16 spots, just ahead of entertainment and sports, with 15. Only four politicians appear among the 100.

Villa-Komaroff’s achievements have received national recognition. She is a member of the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Hall of Fame and a fellow of the Association for Women in Science. She has served on review committees for the National Institutes of Health and was an invited participant in the Forum on Science in the National Interest, sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Villa-Komaroff is currently a member of the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council, the Institute of Medicine/National Research Council Committee on Assessing the Structure of NIH, and is an elected member of the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Villa-Komaroff is also deeply committed to the recruitment and retention of minorities in science. She is a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and has been both a board member and vice president of the organization.

Villa-Komaroff began her research career under the tutelage of David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish and received her Ph.D. in cell biology from MIT in 1975. Awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, she did postgraduate work with Fotis Kafatos at Harvard University. Because Cambridge had banned recombinant DNA work, she pursued her research for a year at Cold Spring Harbor, as a guest in the laboratory of Tom Maniatis, before rejoining Walter Gilbert’s group at Harvard. She accepted a faculty position in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1978. In 1985, Villa-Komaroff was appointed associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston and Associate Director of the Division of Neuroscience at Children’s Hospital.

In 1996, Villa-Komaroff went to Northwestern University as Professor of Neurology and Associate Vice President for Research Administration and was appointed Vice President for Research in 1998. She joined Whitehead Institute in 2003.


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