Father of 'The Pill' to Speak on Campus Oct. 30
Posted September 24, 2002 | Atlanta
Carl Djerassi, often dubbed the father of "the pill," will present the 2002 Karlovitz Lecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology 3 p.m. Oct 30 in the Georgia Tech Student Center Ballroom, 351 Ferst Drive NW.
Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Djerassi, who led the team of research chemists that first synthesized a steroid oral contraceptive in October 1951, will discuss "Sex in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Free copies of several books written by Djerassi will be available to Tech students on a first-come, first-served basis, and he will autograph books before and after his lecture.
Today Djerassi is a professor emeritus of chemistry at Stanford University. He is one of the few American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science -- for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive -- and the National Medal of Technology, for promoting new approaches to insect control. Djerassi also was named by Time as one of the 30 most eminent people of the millennium.
This past year Djerassi released a new book, "This Man's Pill." In it, he weaves a personal narrative that illuminates the impact his invention has had on the world at large -- and on him personally. The book presents a forcefully revisionist account of the early history of the pill, debunking many of the journalistic and romantic accounts of its scientific origin.
Djerassi does not shrink from exploring why we have no pill for men or why Japan only approved it in 1999. Emphasizing that development of the pill occurred during the post-World War II period of technological euphoria, he believes that its creation could not be repeated in today's cultural climate.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Djerassi has received 19 honorary doctorates and many other honors, such as the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the first Award for the Industrial Application of Science from the NAS, and the American Chemical Society's highest award - the Priestley Medal.
For the past decade, Djerassi has turned to fiction writing, mostly in the genre of "science-in-fiction," whereby he illustrates, in the guise of realistic fiction, the human side of scientists and the personal conflicts faced by scientists in their quest for scientific knowledge, personal recognition and financial reward.
In addition to his five novels ("Cantor's Dilemma;" "The Bourbaki Gambit;" "Marx, deceased;" "Menachem's Seed;" "NO"), he has written several short stories, an autobiography and a memoir. He also has recently embarked on a trilogy of "science-in-theatre" plays.
The 2002 Karlovitz Lecture is part of the Karlovitz Science Seminars, sponsored by the Georgia Tech College of Sciences. It is named in honor of Les Karlovitz, the former director of Georgia Tech's School of Mathematics who was dean of the College of Science and Liberal Studies beginning in 1983. Karlovitz left Georgia Tech in 1989 and died in 1990. His widow, Julie Karlovitz, established the Karlovitz Science Seminars in his memory.