Percy Lavon Julian: Pioneering Chemist

percyjulian912

Known as the “soybean chemist” for his extraordinary success in synthesizing innovative drugs and industrial chemicals from natural soya products, Percy Lavon Julian was an internationally acclaimed scientist whose discoveries earned him more than 130 chemical patents and a host of professional awards. Among his most important contributions were the creation of a synthetic version of cortisone, a drug used to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, and physostigmine, prescribed to alleviate the effects of glaucoma—a disease of the eye that can cause blindness if left untreated. Julian’s work with soybeans and soya derivatives also led to the mass production of the male and female hormones testosterone and progesterone and the development of a powerful firefighting chemical called Aero-Foam, used by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The first African American to direct a modern industrial laboratory, he spent 17 years with the Glidden Company in Chicago before leaving to establish his own successful pharmaceutical enterprise, Julian Laboratories, Inc.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Percy_Lavon_Julian.aspx

Percy Julian synthesized physostigmine for treatment of glaucoma; and synthesizedcortisone for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Percy Julian is also noted for inventing a fire-extinguishing foam for gasoline and oil fires.

http://inventors.about.com/od/ijstartinventors/a/PercyJulian.htm

Julian held more than 100 chemical patents, wrote scores of papers on his work, and received dozens of awards and honorary degrees. He founded The Julian Laboratories, Inc., with labs in the U.S. and Mexico (both purchased by Smith Kline French in 1961) and another chemical plant in Guatemala (owned by Upjohn Company since 1961). In 1951, Julian and his family moved to Oak Park, Illinois, becoming the first black family to live there. His house was firebombed twice, but the community largely backed him and today celebrates his birthday as a holiday.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bmjuli.html

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