Maria Isabel Layson was included in this year’s list of 20 people who made invention, innovation, and creation in the field of health and medicine.

After attending an elementary school for gifted children and the Singapore American School, Maria Isabel Layson returned to her native Iloilo City, in the Philippines, and enrolled in an advanced science curriculum at the National High School there.

While studying an abundant berry locally called aratiles or sarisa in a Food and Nutrition Research Institute laboratory in Manila, Layson discovered that the fruit contains antioxidant compounds that combat diabetes.

In 2019, when she was 16, she presented her findings at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, as one of a dozen Filipino delegates. That year she won Best Individual Research in Life Science at the National Science and Technology Fair hosted by the Philippines Department of Education.

Layson is now a student at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo City, where she also operates a bakery that makes keto-friendly pastries.

Layson along with 32-year-old Rodney Perez, are the only Filipinos included in this year’s Shapers of the Future list, which highlight 200 people under the age of 40 (as of January 2022), who “have already left their mark on the present, and they surely have much more invention, innovation, creation, and interpretation ahead of them.”

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