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MBHB Celebrates Black History Month: Inventor Percy Lavon Julian

February 23, 2021

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP is proud to celebrate Black History Month in recognition of it as an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans in spotlighting their critical role in U.S. history. In this regard, we are highlighting noteworthy African American inventors whose creations changed the world.

Percy Lavon Julian, a research chemist and pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants, secured more than 130 chemical patents. Julian was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, and he pioneered the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones progesterone and testosterone from plant sterols. His efforts set the stage for the steroid drug industry’s production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.