Scientific Discoveries & Diversity Collaboration


Percy Julian, Chemist

We're taking a journey back to some of the most prolific inventors/scientist that has shaped and transformed what the world is today.  

Ingenuity and innovation are elements that intertwine well together, and when you're able to harness both elements, you're able to expound on extraordinary possibilities. We recognize an astute profile of Percy Julian as an example of a leader who was able to collaborate and develop novel solutions that has shaped mankind, all while harnessing ingenuity and innovation.

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975) was an African American research chemistand a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, and a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones progesterone and testosterone from plant sterolssuch as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work laid the foundation for the steroid drug industry's production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills. 

While Julian was apart of an era when African Americans faced prejudice and virtually all aspects of life, not least in the scientific world, he succeeded against the odds.  To overcoming the challenges of his early education career, from his high school to attending DePauw University, and then Harvard University to study chemistry and unsuccessfully tried to proceed for his doctorate degree.  

Many of his works are still a major contributing factor to major research institutions on how we navigate a new world of targeting novel ways of chemical synthesizing for disease treatments.