Inventor of the Pill Wins Edinburgh Medal

Submitted by edg on Fri, 8 Apr '11 7.20pm

The winner of this year's Edinburgh Medal is Professor Carl Djerassi, an American chemist, novelist and playwright and Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. Djerassi is best known for his contribution to the development of the first oral contraceptive pill in 1951 for which he won the National Medal of Science in the USA.

Dr Simon Gage, director of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, said Djerassi was being given the 23rd Edinburgh Medal for his "game-changing social innovation born out of good science". 

Gage added: "Beyond this significant achievement, we recognise that he has committed many years of his life to the exploration of the concepts and issues of science through plays and writings. He has constantly sought ways to engage the public in debate and discussion about issues that matter to them.”

Responding to today's announcement, Professor Djerassi said: “As a frequent past visitor to Edinburgh, I am delighted and honored to receive this year's Edinburgh Medal and to note that I am the first chemist among my distinguished predecessors.”

The Edinburgh Medal is given each year "to men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity."

The first Edinburgh Medallist in 1989 was the theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam. Of the subsequent Medallists three have gone on to be awarded the Nobel Prize.

The Medal is supported by the City of Edinburgh Council and will be awarded at a ceremony on Tuesday 12th April 2011.

The Rt. Hon. George Grubb, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, said: "Professor Carl Djerassi's pioneering research work in reproductive medicine was instrumental in bringing about one of the most significant scientific and indeed social advances of the twentieth century. His tireless dedication to the cause of engaging the public with science is truly inspirational and it is a tremendous honour to present Professor Djerassi with the Edinburgh Medal for 2011."

Edinburgh Medal Recipients

  • 1989 Professor Abdus Salam
  • 1990 Professor Stephen J Gould
  • 1991 Professor Jane Goodall
  • 1992 Professor Heinz Wolff
  • 1993 Professor Wangari Maathai
  • 1994 Professor Manuel Pattarroyo
  • 1995 Sir John Crofton
  • 1996 Professor Richard Levins
  • 1997 Professor Amartya Sen
  • 1998 Sir David Attenborough
  • 1999 Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell
  • 2000 Professor Lynn Margulis
  • 2001 Sir John Sulston
  • 2002 Lise Kingo
  • 2003 Professor Wang Sung
  • 2004 Professor Stephen Rose
  • 2005 Professor Colin Blakemore
  • 2006 Professor James Lovelock
  • 2007 Dr Richard Horton
  • 2008 Professor Chris Rapley CBE
  • 2009 Professor John Beckwith
  • 2010 Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys
  • 2011 Professor Carl Djerassi