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Posted: 12:00am by & filed under News

 

Percy Julian was born on April 11, 1899, in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended DePauw University where he graduated first in his class with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Even with academic distinction, he still had a hard time pursuing higher level education and a career due to racial prejudice. 

 

In 1929, Julian flew to Vienna to receive his Ph.D. in organic chemistry. After completing his degree, Julian moved back to the US in 1931 where he became an organic chemistry teacher. From there he worked with an associate to research soybeans and their properties.

 

Julian left teaching and went on to work as a chief chemist at Glidden Company, the leading manufacturer of paint and varnish. At the age of 36, Julian was named the first African American scientist, which help paved the future for other African Americans in the field.

 

Continuing his research, he developed a way to create female hormones from soy beans, which helped prevent miscarriages and help fight certain cancers. But he was most famous for his discovery of a synthetic version of cortisone, containing soybean, which is used commonly today to help treat rheumatoid arthritis.

 

After years of dedicated hard work, Julian was finally recognized and respected in his field. He received many awards and honors throughout his life including the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.

 

Julian died of liver cancer on April 19, 1975.

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