Career Milestones

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Julian Laboratories (1953)
While Julian was conducting his hormonal research in the 1940s, Penn State chemist Russell Marker had discovered an even cheaper source of artificial steroids than the soybean: the Mexican yam. Marker's discovery became the foundation of Syntex, the Mexican company that would eventually overtake Glidden as the leading manufacturer of steroid hormones. In 1953, after Upjohn's discovery of the oxygen-inserting mold, Julian realized that Glidden could still become a leading maker of cortisone—if he could make his Compound S from the Mexican yam. But when he appealed to Glidden's managers to let him open a yam processing plant in Mexico, they turned him down. Risking his career once again, Julian left Glidden in 1953 to form Julian Laboratories and open his own Mexican plant. At Julian Labs, he continued his work in steroids and established a haven for other black chemists, hiring more than any other company in America. Later, he sold his business for $2.3 million, becoming one of the wealthiest black entrepreneurs in the nation.

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