Carl Djerassi

CARL DJERASSI is most famous for synthesizing the first oral contraceptive— "the pill." He is recognized among scientists as one of the world's foremost organic chemists, an expert in the chemistry of natural substances ranging from the antihistamines used in allergy medicines to the steroids of marine animals.

Djerassi, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, has been honored with many awards, including the National Medal of Science in 1973 (for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive), the Perkin Medal for applied chemistry in 1975, the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1978, the first National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science in 1990, the National Medal of Technology in 1991 (sfor promoting new approaches to insect control), and the 1992 Priestley Medal, the highest award of the American Chemical Society.

He has has published 5 novels, a short story collection, an autobiography, and one play, in addition to more than 1200 articles. His books include the "science-in-fiction" novels Cantor's Dilemma; The Bourbaki Gambit; Marx, Deceased; Menachem's Seed; and NO — as well as autobiographical nonfiction (The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse); and he has recently embarked on a trilogy of plays which he describes as "science-in-theatre" — with the first one, An Immaculate Misconception, emphasizing current research in reproductive biology.

He has also been a crusader for better contraceptives, for science in developing countries and for the arts. In 1982 he founded the Djerassi Resident Artists Program which has provided support to over 10,000 artists, writers, choreographers and composers over the past two decades.

Further reading on Edge: "Sex in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" on Edge

Beyond Edge: Carl Djerassi's Home Page