Percy Lavon Julian Biography

Percy Lavon Julian

Born: 4/11/1899
Birthplace: Montgomery, Ala.

In addition to an extensive teaching career at such colleges as DePauw University, which would not offer him a professorship because he was African American, Howard University and West Virginia State College, Percy Lavon Julian made significant discoveries in the private sector. In 1935 Julian developed physostigmine, a drug that is used in the treatment of glaucoma. While working for the Glidden Company, Julian worked with the soya bean, developing a protein that helped to develop AeroFoam a fire extinguisher used by the Navy. After leaving Glidden, Julian, who held a bachelor's degree from DePauw, a Master's degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, founded Julian Research, focusing on the production of sterols. He synthesized the female hormone progesterone, and the male hormone testosterone by extracting sterols from soybean oil. His most famous exploit however, is his synthesis of cortisone which is used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Died: 4/19/1975

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