Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Ph.D
Founder and Principal, Intersections of Science, Business, and Diversity (SBD)
Member of Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE)
Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a molecular biologist, executive, diversity advocate and founder of Intersections of Science, Business, and Diversity (SBD), received her BA from Goucher College and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from MIT; her advisors were David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish. As a postdoc in Walter Gilbert’s laboratory, she was lead author of a landmark paper reporting the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells. During her career as a bench scientist, she focused on using the methods of recombinant DNA to address a number of fundamental questions in different fields. By collaborating with neurologists, developmental biologists, endocrinologists, and cell biologists, her lab was part of the transformation of molecular biology from a field to an essential tool.
Dr. Villa-Komaroff is a board member and former CEO and CSO of Cytonome/ST (“Cytonome”), a company developing and manufacturing purpose-built cell sorters. She also serves on the board of the Massachusetts Life Science Center (Gubernatorial appointment) and the board of directors of ATCC, an independent, private, nonprofit biological resource center and research organization. She is a member of the National Research Council standing Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine and co-chaired a sub-committee that planned and conducted the workshop “Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia” (2013). She is a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); the Society is the recipient of the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for contributions and the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She has been a board member and Vice President of SACNAS and currently serves as a member of the Committee of Senior Advisors.
Dr. Villa-Komaroff held faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School. As an administrator she served as Acting Director of the Division of Neuroscience, Children’s Hospital; Vice President for Research at Northwestern University in Illinois; and Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer of the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA). She served on the board of Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc., a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company that developed products for the treatment of rare diseases before it was acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals (2003-2005, Chair, 2005).
Dr. Villa-Komaroff was elected to the AAAS Board (2001-2005), served on the Advisory Councils for National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (2000-2004), and the Biology Directorate of NSF (1994-1999, Chair, 1997-1998). She has served on review committees for both NSF and NIH. She was a member of the 2012 US delegation to the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference-Women and the Economy Forum held in Russia. She chaired the minority affairs committees of the American Society for Cell Biology and the Society for Neuroscience.
Dr. Villa-Komaroff is a fellow of AAAS and AWIS. She has been honored by election to the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Hall of Fame, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Hispanic Business Magazine, was named 2008 Hispanic Scientist of the Year by the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida, and 2013 Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women.