April 18 , 2000


Carl Djerassi, Inventor of the Birth Control Pill, to Speak at Brookhaven Lab

UPTON, NY - Carl Djerassi, the scientist who first synthesized the oral contraceptive now popularly known as "the Pill," will give a talk at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Thursday, May 18, at 4 p.m. in Berkner Hall. Titled "Technology and Human Reproduction: 1950-2050," the lecture is free and open to the public.

After the talk, Djerassi will provide a free copy of one of his books to each lecture attendee, and he will be available for 15 minutes to autograph his books.

Sexual mores and attitudes have changed dramatically during the second half of the twentieth century through two technological innovations: the Pill and in-vitro fertilization. In his talk, Djerassi will note that, at present, most scientific efforts are concentrating on assisted reproduction (for example, intracytoplasmic sperm injection) or improved sexual performance (for instance, Viagra), rather than contraception. Djerassi asserts that not too far in the future, sex and reproduction will be separate entities,with major social consequences among affluent countries.

A chemistry professor at Stanford University, Carl Djerassi is one of the few American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (for synthesis of the Pill) and the National Medal of Technology (for promoting new approaches to insect control). A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Djerassi has received 17 honorary doctorates and numerous other honors, including the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the American Chemical Society's highest award, the Priestley Medal.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Djerassi earned an A.B. from Kenyon College in 1942, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1945. After four years as a research chemist with CBA Pharmaceutical Company, he joined Syntex in 1949 as associate director of chemical research, eventually becoming President of Syntex Research. In 1952, he accepted a professorship at Wayne State University, and, in 1959, he assumed his current position at Stanford. In 1968, he helped found Zoecon Corporation, a company dedicated to developing novel approaches to insect control, serving as its chief executive officer until 1983.

Author of over 1,200 scientific articles, Djerassi has also written five novels, numerous short stories, an autobiography, and he is currently writing a trilogy of plays.

Djerassi is also the founder of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program near Woodside, California, which provides residencies and studio space for artists in the visual arts, literature, choreography and performing arts, and music. Over 1,000 artists have passed through that program since its inception in 1982.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Last updated 5/28/99 by Public Affairs