The Rewards Of Intellectual Bigamy

Carl Djerassi's two track career in academia has brought him both fame and wealth STANFORD, CALIF.--If there's any doubt that a scientist can honorably serve two masters, Carl Djerassi stands as living proof. For the last 36 years, the chemist has been a self-described "intellectual bigamist"--partaking of the freedom of academia while churning out discovery after lucrative discovery for industry. And while other scientists, particularly in the fields of biotechnology and computer science, h

Virginia Morell
Jan 22, 1989

Carl Djerassi's two track career in academia has brought him both fame and wealth

STANFORD, CALIF.--If there's any doubt that a scientist can honorably serve two masters, Carl Djerassi stands as living proof. For the last 36 years, the chemist has been a self-described "intellectual bigamist"--partaking of the freedom of academia while churning out discovery after lucrative discovery for industry. And while other scientists, particularly in the fields of biotechnology and computer science, have walked the delicate line between academic and commercial science, few can match Djerassi's juggling act for success and longevity.

A professor of chemistry at Stanford University since 1960, Djerassi has directed or founded four companies, synthesized the first oral contraceptive, pioneered the synthesis of cortisone from plants, developed new applications for such standard organic chemistry tools as the mass spectrometer, published 1,150 papers and eight books--and become a millionaire. Not bad for a man who arrived...

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