Austrian-born ‘father of the pill’ dies

Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-born chemist widely considered the father of the birth control pill, has died aged 91.

Djerrasi died of complications of cancer in his San Francisco home on Saturday night. 

A professor emeritus of chemistry at Stanford, he was most famous for leading a research team in Mexico City that in 1951 developed norethindrone, a synthetic molecule that became a key component of the first birth control pill.

“The pill,” as it came to be known, radically transformed sexual politics and women’s control over their fertility.

Born in Vienna in 1923 to an Austrian mother and a Bulgarian father, Djerassi emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1939, following the Nazi takeover of Austria.

He also published novels, plays and short stories, and collected art work by Paul Klee, which he donated to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


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