Last Updated: 08 Apr, 2023 | Views: 85
Other Profession(s): Chemist
Famous For: American Research Chemist
Higher Education: DePauw University (B.A.) Harvard University (M.S.) University of Vienna (PhD)
Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975) was an African American chemist who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of organic chemistry. His work laid the foundation for the development of many important medicines and other chemical compounds.
Percy Lavon Julian Education:
Percy Lavon Julian grew up in poverty and faced discrimination and segregation, even in his education. However, he was a brilliant student and excelled in academics.
Julian attended DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1920. Despite facing racial discrimination at the university, he went on to earn a master's degree in chemistry from Harvard University in 1923, becoming the first African American to do so.
Percy Lavon Julian Career:
After completing his education, Julian began his career as a chemistry instructor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1935, he joined the staff of the Glidden Company, a leading chemical company in Chicago, where he became a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry.
Julian's groundbreaking work focused on the synthesis of natural products from plants, such as soybeans and peanuts, to create compounds used in medicine and other industries. He developed a process for the synthesis of cortisone, a steroid hormone used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, which was a major breakthrough in the field of medicine.
In 1953, Julian founded his own company, Julian Laboratories, which produced synthetic hormones and other pharmaceuticals. The company was hugely successful and became a leading producer of steroids and hormones.
Percy Lavon Julian Awards and Honors:
Julian was the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and he received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1950 and the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society in 1954.
Percy Lavon Julian Major Works and Facts:
In addition to his work in organic chemistry, Julian was also a civil rights activist who fought against racial discrimination in education and employment. He was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and was involved in numerous other organizations that sought to improve the lives of African Americans.
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