VIENNA (dpa) – Carl Djerassi, one of the developers of the birth control pill, has died in San Francisco at the age of 91, a spokeswoman for the Albertina museum in his birthplace of Vienna said Saturday.
The scientist, playwright and art collector achieved fame for synthesizing the hormone cortisone, paving the way for its mass production, as well as a female hormone that he developed in 1951 as the basis for oral contraceptives for women, together with the Boston pharmacologists Gregory Pincus and John Rock.
“Carl Djerassi was one of the most important chemists of our time, who set milestones in science and social development of the 20th century,” Austrian Culture Minister Josef Ostermayer said, referring to the impact of the pill on women’s lives around the world.
Djerassi’s son informed the museum that his father died Friday night after a long and serious illness, said the spokeswoman for the Albertina, to which Djerassi had given about half of his collection of paintings by Paul Klee.
The son of Jewish doctors fled Austria in 1938 when the National Socialists took control and emigrated to the United States.
It took Austria’s government and scientific institutions decades after World War II to reach out to many of the artists and scientists who were forced to flee the Nazis.