Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Forgotten Genius: Black scientist Percy Julian

NOVA (PBS); CC Liu, Crystal Quintero, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly Wiki edit
The Man Who Made "the [Birth Control] Pill" Possible - Chemist Dr. Percy Lovan Julian

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899-April 19, 1975) was an African American research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants (Darlene R. Stille, Percy Lavon Julian: Pioneering Chemist).

I really like science!
He was the first person to synthesize the natural product physostigmine and was a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones progesterone and testosterone from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol.

His work laid the foundation for the steroid drug industry's production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills [WGBH-PBS, People and Discoveries: Percy Julian, 1899-1975, WGBH-PBS, 1998; Giants of the Past: Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975). A Forgotten Pioneer in Soy," USDA; "Lipid Library: Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975)"].

Nik, did you realize blacks could be geniuses, too? - Of course, Al . Who do you think...
The future black British Princess Markles
Julian later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the wild Mexican yam.

His work helped greatly reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping to significantly expand the use of several important drugs (NOVA: Forgotten Genius, NOVA (TV series), W. M. Cobb, "Medical History: Percy Lavon Julian, Ph.D., Sc.D., LL.D., L.H.H.D., 1899– ," Journal of the National Medical Association, March 1971; Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 143-150, PMC).

"Let's look in this closet." Aha! The Pill!
Julian received more than 130 chemical patents. He was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry.

He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted (behind David Blackwell) from any field (ibid.) More

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