Percy Lavon Julian Facts

Percy Lavon Julian Facts
Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 to April 19, 1975) was an American research chemist. He was a pioneer in the industrial scale chemical synthesis of progesterone and testosterone from plant sterols. He was the first African-American chemist to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Interesting Percy Lavon Julian Facts:
Percy Lavon Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama and was the oldest of six children born to James and Elizabeth Julian.
Though his grandfather had been a slave, both of Percy Julian's parents were graduates of Alabama State University.
Although education beyond elementary school was unusual for African-American children at that time, all of the Julian children were encouraged to strive for college.
Percy Julian attended DePauw University in Indiana but due to race was not allowed to live in the dormitory.
He found housing in a boarding house off campus but he was refused meals there.
He worked waiting tables and doing odd jobs at a fraternity house which allowed him to sleep in the attic and eat at the house.
He graduated from DePauw in 1920 as the valedictorian and earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1923 he received a fellowship to Harvard where he earned an MS in chemistry.
In 1929 a Rockefeller Fellowship allowed him to attend the University of Vienna where he earned his PhD in 1931.
In 1932 he was teaching organic chemistry at DePauw University when he helped Joseph Piki, a friend from the University of Vienna, come to the US.
By 1935 he and Piki had synthesized physostigmine, a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor.
After being refused a professorship at DePauw on racial grounds, he went to work for Glidden in 1936.
There he designed and supervised the construction of the world's first plant for the production of industrial, isolated soy protein from soybean meal.
Isolated soy protein was used in industrial applications such as glue for plywood and in latex paints.
During World War II, Julian's isolated soy protein was sent to Kidde Fire Fighting Company, which used it in Aer-O-Foam.
Aer-o-Foam was particularly useful for fighting fires on aircraft carriers and other Navy ships during the war.
In 1947 the NAACP awarded Julian the Spingarn Medal for this work.
In 1940 Julian began work on synthesis of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone from the plant sterols stigmasterol and sitosterol from soy beans.
Previous research on these hormones was hampered by the small quantities available from animal sources.
Julian was able to produce 100 pounds of mixed soy sterols a day.
Julian obtained patents for the processes of producing progesterone and testosterone from soybean.
In December of 1953 Julian left Glidden and founded Julian Laboratories, Inc.
In 1961 he sold the company to Smith Kline for $2.3 million dollars.


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