Percy Lavon Julian was born April 11, 1899 in Montgomery Alabama. He was a research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medical drugs from plants. He largely worked on chemical synthesis of the human hormones, steroids, progesterone, and testosterone, from plant sterols.
Percy synthesizing progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone from the plant sterols, stigmasterol and sitosterol, isolated from soybean oil by a foam technique he invented.
His most famous work comes from his synthesis of cortisone which is used in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Little unknown fact: In 1999, the American Chemical Society recognized Julian’s synthesis of physostigmine as one of the top 25 achievements in the history of American chemistry.