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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 60-66

Carl Djerassi, Father of the Pill (1923–2015): An Obituary-Tribute

George B. Kauffman* and Laurie M. Kauffman

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,

Published: 24 March 2015

Abstract. Carl Djerassi (1923–2015), the author of books, plays, poetry, and more than 1,200 scientific articles, died of the complications of liver and bone cancer in his home in San Francisco on January 30, 2015 at the age of 91. The holder of 34 honorary doctorates and a score of professional and government awards, including the National Medal of Science (chemistry), the nation’s highest science honor, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest technology award, he was best known as the father of the contraceptive pill (as an avowed feminist, he actually prefers the designation “mother”). Although the pill (norethindrone or norethisterone) has done more to positively affect lives of not only women but of everyone throughout the globe since it has helped to stem one of the most serious problems of our time — overpopulation—he never received the Nobel prize for this iconic achievement. However, he received every other major award in the world. Our obituary-tribute discusses his personal and professional career and achievements.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Oral contraceptive; Nobel Prize; World War II; Anti-Semitism; Emigration to the United States; Science-in-Fiction; Science-in-Theatre; Poetry; Plays; Art Collecting; Resident Arts Program; Suicide; Corporation Start-ups.

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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