Growing up in Barranquilla, Colombia, Adriana Liimakka would spend many days sitting on the city’s sidewalks while her mother visited hospitals as a sales representative. These became Adriana’s front row seat to systemic inequities, as she would watch people be turned away from care due to their inability to pay, leaving her with a deep discomfort that sparked her interest in health care.
Adriana’s mother taught her that education was the great equalizer, which inspired her to immerse herself in learning, in and out of the classroom. Adriana became concertmaster at her local orchestra, eventually performing violin and classical guitar alongside singers from The Metropolitan Opera.
Adriana moved to the United States after high school to attend Columbia University where she studied biomedical engineering. In college, she conducted research in musculoskeletal mechanics under the mentorship of Professors Edward Guo and Peter Walker and was recognized with the Excellence in Biomedical Engineering award. Her creation of an oxygen blending device for neonatal ICUs in Kampala, Uganda was awarded a VentureWell E-Team grant to support innovations focused on creating social impact.
At Columbia, Adriana devoted time to the student community as a teaching assistant and a member of the rugby team. She was elected as the first Representative for Disability and Accessibility to the Engineering Student Council, working alongside the University Senate to improve accessibility in learning spaces. She also worked as a Spanish medical interpreter in Harlem and the Bronx. Adriana’s advocacy resulted in a King’s Crown Leadership Award for Health and Wellness and being named a Senior Marshal for her graduating class.
Adriana is now pursuing an MD degree in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program and a Master of Biomedical Informatics degree at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School. She was awarded the Dean’s REACH Scholarship for her commitment to helping the underserved. Her proposed diagnostic for prosthetic joint infections, developed alongside Professor Laura Donlin, was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and cited in the New England Journal of Medicine. She is currently studying the genetics of musculoskeletal complications under the mentorship of Orthopedic Surgeon Antonia Chen, supported by the Zimmer Biomet/JRGOS Grant for investigations into health disparities within orthopedic surgery. Adriana hopes to continue advocating for equity through innovation in musculoskeletal health care and providing culturally competent care.