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The man who changed everything

15 October 2013

While working on his doctorate in Chemistry at UNAM, Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cárdenas (born 16 March 1925, Tepic,Nayarit) took a job with a small Mexican pharmaceutical company, Syntex, which was working on synthisizing extracts from the North American wild yam (Dioscórea mexicana) which had been used for centuries by Husataca and other indigenous Mexican women to prevent unwanted births.


On 15 October 1951, Miramontes succeeded in synthizing noretisterona, the chemical equivalent of the naturally occuring substance in yams that prevents ovulation. While his supervisor Carl Djerassi, assisted with Miramontes research, and along with Synex director, George Rosenkranz, shared in patent rights, Miramontes was the guy who unlocked the formula that permitted low-cost, effective, and mass-produced birth control — radically altering not only the lives of Mexican women (where the right to family planning was enshrined in the Constitution) but the lives of all women.

So… what did you do in grad school?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 October 2013 6:53 am

    I hope he got the credit for it. Like a Nobel Prize?? Santa Ana had gum in hand, and wanted to bounce it, rather than sweeten and chew it. He left his idea and gum with Wrigley. Wrigley did the latter and became rich and famous for juicy fruit gum, and Santa Ana is only remembered as a ruthless dictator. An unfair assessment since he was a very astute General contrary to the stereotypical written myths…….

  2. 16 October 2013 5:39 pm

    Good for him.

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