Medical MilestoneGAMBIER, Ohio (January 26, 2007) The British Medical Journal (BMJ) named the birth-control pill, created by Carl Djerassi, Class of 1943, one of the 15 most important medical milestones since the forerunner of BMJ was published in 1840. BMJ, one of the world's most influential medical journals, asked readers to nominate the milestones and a panel of editors and advisors narrowed the list from a field of more than 70 candidates.
Djerassi has received an enormous number of honors through the years. In 2005, for example, the post office of Austria, a country which Djerassi and his parents fled in the wake of the Nazi takeover in 1938, issued a postage stamp saluting his accomplishments. After graduation from Kenyon with a degree in chemistry, Djerassi earned a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. He synthesized the first steroid contraceptive in 1951 while working as a research chemist for Syntex, S.A., in Mexico City. Since 1959, he has been on the faculty at Stanford University.
BMJ asked readers to vote for their favorite medical advance out of the list of 15, and sanitation (clean water and sewage disposal) took the top spot. Of the pill's widespread significance, Djerassi said "There's no need to ask which pill, so enough said, perhaps."