Percy Julian's Career Milestones

  • By Rima Chaddha
  • Posted 02.06.07
  • NOVA

Born the grandson of Alabama slaves, and growing up during segregation, Percy Lavon Julian faced a lifetime of personal and professional challenges. He nevertheless went on to become one of the 20th century's most influential scientists. His work with steroids and alkaloids helped bring about effective treatments for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma, benefiting millions worldwide. Here, trace Julian's most important scientific achievements.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Trace the African-American chemist's most notable scientific achievements through this time line.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Forgotten Genius.



(calabar bean)
Public domain/Kí¶hler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
(Percy Julian in lab)
Courtesy Norb Teclaw
(Julian and student)
© AP Photo
(Glidden advertisement)
© American Soybean Association
(Julian in Glidden laboratory)
© AP Photo
(arthritis article)
© Saturday Evening Post
(Julian at Julian Labs)
Courtesy Arnie Hirsch
(Julian stamp)
Courtesy U.S. Postal Service

Related Links

  • Forgotten Genius

    Against all odds, African-American chemist Percy Julian became one of the great scientists of the 20th century.

  • Barriers for Black Scientists

    Do racial barriers still exist for African-Americans in science, as they did in chemist Percy Julian's time?

  • Nature's Pharmacy

    In this slide show, see wild species that gave rise to penicillin, morphine, and other medications.

  • Build a Steroid

    In this interactive activity learn about the molecular structure of steroids.


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