Djerassi, Carl(jərăs`ē), 1929–2015, American organic chemist and educator, b. Vienna, Austria. He received his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Wisconsin (1945) and taught at Stanford Univ. from 1959 (emeritus from 2002). He was associated with Syntex, S.A., in Mexico from 1949 until 1972, becoming president of the Syntex Research Division (1968–72), and was president (1968–83) and then chairman of the board (1983–88) of the Zoecon Corporation, of which he was a founder. His synthetic work focused on steroids, antihistamines, and inflammatories and his theoretical work on optical rotatory dispersion and circular dichroism. He developed the first commerical antihistamine and was a member of team that first synthesized a progestin that was effective and commercially viable as an oral contraceptive. His books include The Politics of Contraception: Birth Control in the Year 2001 (1980) and poetry and short story collections, Cantor's Dilemma (1989) and other novels, and plays. In 1979 he founded an artists' colony near Woodside, Calif.
See his autobiographies (1990, 1992, 2004, and 2014).
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Djerassi, Carl(1923– ) chemist, inventor; born in Vienna, Austria. A refugee immigrant to the United States in 1939, he became a research chemist, and eventually, professor of chemistry at Stanford. While working for a little-known firm in Mexico City in 1951, he was involved in the testing of the oral contraceptive—"the pill"—that for the first time made birth control a simple matter for millions of women. Although he made claims to being the prime developer of the birth control pill, these claims have been disputed by the scientific community. He did make important contributions to other areas of steroid research, and he was noted for his efforts at promoting international cooperation.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.