Biochemists

Biochemists study the structure, composition, chemical processes and chemical reactions in living organisms. They analyze the chemical reactions in the cells and tissues of living things, study the expression of genes, and research on the effects of food, medicine and other substances on living tissues. Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary field and encompasses elements of molecular biology, molecular genetics, microbiology, and organic and inorganic chemistry. Pure research in biochemistry is conducted to further human knowledge of the subject while applied research is conducted to solve practical problems. The work of biochemists is applicable to a variety of fields like medicine, food science, agriculture and industry. In human and veterinary medicine, biochemists analyze drug function and mechanism, and help in the development of new drugs. Biochemists engaged in agriculture and food science determine the chemical composition of foods to explore different sources of nutritious food, and study the effects of herbicides and other chemicals on crop plants. They use advanced tools and techniques like radioactive isotopes, spectrophotometers, centrifuges, electron microscopes and specialized software to perform experiments. Browse this section to explore about the life and works of various famous biochemists from all over the world.
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 1 Har Gobind Khorana

Har Gobind Khorana
4
Birthdate: January 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Punjab, India
Died: November 9, 2011

Born into a poor family in British India, Har Gobind Khorana studied on scholarships and later bagged a seat at the University of Liverpool and thus moved to England. The renowned biochemist ended up winning the Nobel Prize for his research on how nucleotides in nucleic acids control protein synthesis.

 2 Linus Pauling

Linus Pauling
4
Famous As: Chemist, Biochemist
Birthdate: February 28, 1901
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: August 19, 1994

Only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, Linus Carl Pauling was an American theoretical physical chemist, who received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on nature of chemical bond and 1962 Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts to stop nuclear weapon testing. Also a prolific writer and educator, he has published 1,200 books and papers.  

 3 Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

American biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, who has made fundamental contributions in biochemistry and genetics, is best-known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene-editing. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a method for genome editing through CRISPR, marking them as the only two women to share science Nobel ever.

 4 Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson
4
Famous As: Astronaut, Biochemist
Birthdate: February 9, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beaconsfield, Iowa, United States

The first woman to command the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was born to farmers and decided to become an astronaut after watching the moon landing on TV. She also boasts of a PhD in biochemistry and has been a researcher and educator of biochemistry and genetic engineering.

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 5 Kary B. Mullis

Kary B. Mullis
6
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: December 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lenoir, North Carolina, United States
Died: August 7, 2019
Biochemist Kary Mullis won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the polymerase chain reaction. He was also known for practicing clandestine chemistry and researching on hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD. He also wrote several books, including an autobiography named Dancing Naked in the Mind Field.

 6 John Pemberton

John Pemberton
4
Famous As: Pharmacist
Birthdate: July 8, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Knoxville, Georgia, United States
Died: August 16, 1888

John Pemberton was an American pharmacist best remembered for his invention of Coca-Cola. A Confederate States Army veteran, Pemberton suffered from a wound sustained during the Battle of Columbus. The injury led him to experiment with different kinds of toxins and painkillers, which in turn helped him invent the recipe to make Coca-Cola.

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 7 Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 13, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rendcomb
Died: November 19, 2013

Frederick Sanger remains one of only two people to have won the Nobel Prize twice in the same category. The British biochemist is remembered for his ground-breaking work on nucleic acids and the insulin molecule. The son of a Quaker medical missionary, Sanger, too, grew up believing in Quakerism.

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 8 Otto Heinrich Warburg

Otto Heinrich Warburg
4
Famous As: Physiologist
Birthdate: October 8, 1883
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Died: August 1, 1970

Otto Heinrich Warburg was a German medical doctor and physiologist. In 1931, his discovery of the nature of the respiratory enzyme earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He also played an important role during World War I where he served as an officer in the cavalry regiment; he was honored with the Iron Cross for bravery.

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 9 Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: July 29, 1994

Dorothy Hodgkin received the 1964 Nobel Prize for mapping the structure of penicillin and Vitamin B12. She is also known for her work on insulin. Beginning her work on structure of an organic compound by using X-ray crystallography as an undergraduate student, she later developed it further and used it to determine the three-dimensional structure of complex organic molecules.

 10 Emmanuelle Charpentier

Emmanuelle Charpentier
4
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: December 11, 1968
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Juvisy-sur-Orge, France
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 11 Erwin Chargaff

Erwin Chargaff
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 11, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Died: June 20, 2002

Erwin Chargaff was a biochemist and writer who worked at the Columbia University medical school as a professor of biochemistry. He is credited with discovering the Chargaff's rules, which played an important role in the discovery of the DNA's double helix structure. Also a prolific writer, Erwin Chargaff authored several books, including an autobiography.

 12 Katalin Karikó

Katalin Karikó
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Famous As: mRNA technology in immunology and therapies
Birthdate: January 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Szolnok, Hungary

Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó is best known for her research on mRNA, which led scientists to develop the first mRNA-based vaccine in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. After working at the Biological Research Centre in Szeged, she moved to the US due to lack of funding.

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 13 John Kendrew

John Kendrew
4
Famous As: Biochemist and Crystallographer
Birthdate: March 24, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Died: August 23, 1997

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist John Kendrew revolutionized science with his 3-D model of the muscle protein myoglobin. The Cambridge alumnus later co-founded the European Molecular Biology Organization and had been the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Molecular Biology. He had also worked on operational research for the Royal Air Force.

 14 Eric Kandel

Eric Kandel
4
Famous As: Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Neuroscientist, Psychologist, Biochemist
Birthdate: November 7, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna

Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Eric Kandel is known for his research on the role of synapses in memory and learning. An Austrian Jew, he left his country with his family and moved to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitism. A doctor, specializing in psychiatry, he later taught at Columbia University.

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 15 Gertrude B. Elion

Gertrude B. Elion
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Pharmacologist
Birthdate: January 23, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: February 21, 1999

The daughter of Jewish immigrants in New York, Gertrude B. Elion excelled in chemistry at Hunter College, where she studied for free, but was initially unable to find a job due to gender bias. The renowned biochemist and pharmacologist later won a Nobel and became a pioneer in medical research.

 16 Pierre Joliot

Pierre Joliot
4
Famous As: Biologist and researcher for the CNRS.
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
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 17 Alexander Shulgin

Alexander Shulgin
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Famous As: Rediscoverer of MDMA
Birthdate: June 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: June 2, 2014

A pioneer of psychedelic drug synthesis, Alexander Shulgin came to be known as The Godfather of Ecstasy, for reinventing the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, for medical use. The Harvard drop-out, who later studied psychiatry and pharmacology, would often experiment his newly invented drugs on himself, his wife, and his friends.

 18 Hans Adolf Krebs

Hans Adolf Krebs
5
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: August 25, 1900
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hildesheim, Germany
Died: November 22, 1981

Born to an ENT surgeon in Germany, Hans Adolf Krebs followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine. After fleeing Nazi Germany, he went to England, where he joined the University of Cambridge as a researcher. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist is remembered for his groundbreaking discovery of cellular respiration.

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 19 Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England, UK

 20 Gerty Cori

Gerty Cori
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 15, 1896
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: October 26, 1957

Austro-Hungarian-American biochemist Gerty Cori is best-known for discovering the course of catalytic conversion of glycogen with her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori for which they jointly won the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. With this Gerty became the third woman to win a Nobel in science and the first to win it in this category.

 21 Tasuku Honjo

Tasuku Honjo
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Famous As: Immunologist
Birthdate: January 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

 22 Rudolf Vrba

Rudolf Vrba
4
Famous As: Former biochemist became known for having escaped from the camp in April 1944, at the height of the Holocaust
Birthdate: September 11, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Topoľčany, Slovakia
Died: March 27, 2006
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 23 Tim Hunt

Tim Hunt
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Chemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neston

Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist Tim Hunt is best known for his research on cell cycle regulation. He was the first to isolate cyclin, while studying sea urchins. His work helped scientists working on cancer research. He has been knighted for his achievements and has also won the Royal Medal.

 24 Roger Y. Tsien

Roger Y. Tsien
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 1, 1952
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: August 24, 2016

Co-recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, Roger Yonchien Tsien began working on the subject in collaboration with Osamu Shimomura and Martin Chalfie while serving as professor of chemistry and biochemistry at University of California. Also a pioneer of calcium imaging, he is known for developing various dyes including Fura-2.    

 25 Rashad Khalifa

Rashad Khalifa
3
Famous As: Chemist, Translator, Biochemist, Computer scientist
Birthdate: November 19, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Egypt
Died: January 31, 1990

Born in Egypt, Rashad Khalifa later moved to the U.S., where he earned a PhD in biochemistry. Part of the USI and a supporter of the Quranist movement, he was found stabbed multiple times in a mosque in Arizona. It was later revealed that Sunni extremists had killed him.

 26 Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa
3
Famous As: Physician and Biochemist
Birthdate: September 14, 1905
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Luarca, Spain
Died: November 1, 1993

Nobel Prize-winning Spanish biochemist Severo Ochoa is remembered for his discovery of the enzyme polynucleotide phosphorylase and his subsequent success in synthesizing RNA. His research took him to top institutes such as the universities of Oxford and Heidelberg. He had also taught at the New York University.

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 27 Friedrich Miescher

Friedrich Miescher
3
Famous As: Biologist, Biochemist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 13, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Basel
Died: August 26, 1895

Apart from being the first to discover nucleic acid, Swiss biochemist Friedrich Miescher also isolated protamine, a protein associated with nucleic acid. Born to a scientifically rich family, he initially wished to become a doctor, but rendered partially deaf due to typhoid, he later chose physiological chemistry.

 28 Selman Waksman

Selman Waksman
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 22, 1888
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nova Pryluka, Ukraine
Died: August 16, 1973
Nobel Prize-winning Ukrainian-American biochemist and microbiologist Selman Waksman revolutionized science with his pathbreaking discovery of a number of antibiotics. His research on soil microbes helped in the discovery of streptomycin, the first successful treatment of tuberculosis, though he was sued by his student Albert Schatz for stealing credits.
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 29 Satoshi Ōmura

Satoshi Ōmura
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: July 12, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nirasaki, Yamanashi, Japan

 30 Alberto Granado

Alberto Granado
3
Famous As: Scientist, Writer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: August 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hernando, Córdoba
Died: March 5, 2011

Alberto Granado was an Argentine-Cuban doctor, biochemist, scientist, and writer. He is credited with establishing the University of Santiago de Cuba School of Medicine. Alberto Granado was also a traveling companion and friend of Che Guevara. His memoir about the 1952 motorcycle tour with Che inspired the 2004 biopic, The Motorcycle Diaries.

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 31 Duane Gish

Duane Gish
3
Famous As: biochemist
Birthdate: February 17, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: White City
Died: March 5, 2013

Apart from being a renowned biochemist, Duane Gish was also a World War II veteran and a prominent Creationist. He taught at Cornell and penned iconic books such as Evolution: The Fossils Say No! He was also known for his fiery debates and had headed the Institute for Creation Research.

 32 Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Maynard Daly
5
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: April 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Corona, New York, United States
Died: October 28, 2003

Marie Maynard Daly was the first Black lady to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry in the U.S. She was inspired by her father, who had to drop out of Cornell due to lack of funds. A pioneer of biochemistry, Daly later introduced a scholarship for African-American students at Queens College.

 33 Paul Berg

Paul Berg
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: June 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Paul Berg is best known for his research on recombinant DNA techniques. The Stanford professor was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York and is a Penn State alumnus. He has also won the National Medal of Science, among other awards.

 34 Melvin Calvin

Melvin Calvin
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: April 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Died: January 8, 1997

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Melvin Calvin earned scholarships to fund his studies and eventually earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota. The University of California, Berkeley professor later won a Nobel for co-discovering the Calvin cycle, which explained the chemical pathways of photosynthesis.

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 35 Arthur Kornberg

Arthur Kornberg
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 3, 1918
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Died: October 26, 2007

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and doctor Arthur Kornberg is best remembered for his research on DNA synthesis. Born to Jewish immigrants in New York, Kornberg assisted his father at his hardware shop as a child. He had also been a ship doctor for the U.S. Coast Guard.

 36 Johanna Budwig

Johanna Budwig
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: September 30, 1908
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Germany
Died: May 19, 2003

German biochemist and pharmacist Johanna Budwig is best remembered for her anti-cancer diet known as the Budwig diet. Her extensive research on fatty acids helped her create the diet that consists of flaxseed oil, cottage cheese, and low-fat milk. However, there’s no scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of the diet.

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 37 Tomas Lindahl

Tomas Lindahl
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: January 28, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kungsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

Tomas Lindahl is a Swedish-British scientist who specializes in cancer research. He is best known as the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he received alongside Turkish chemist Aziz Sancar and American chemist Paul L. Modrich. Over the years, Tomas Lindahl has also been honored with other prestigious awards such as the Royal Medal and Copley Medal.

 38 Shirley M. Tilghman

Shirley M. Tilghman
3
Famous As: Molecular biologist, University teacher, Biochemist
Birthdate: September 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Toronto

Shirley Marie Tilghman, the nineteenth President of Princeton University, currently the Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs, is considered to be one of the most influential female scientists of our time. Although she is no longer involved in active research she is known for her contributions in the fields of molecular genetics, especially in genomic imprinting.

 39 Alexander Oparin

Alexander Oparin
3
Famous As: Former Biochemist known for contributions to the theory of the origin of life, oacervates
Birthdate: March 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Uglich, Russia
Died: April 21, 1980

 40 Marshall W. Nirenberg

Marshall W. Nirenberg
3
Famous As: Biochemist and Geneticist
Birthdate: April 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Died: January 15, 2010

American biochemist and Nobel laureate Marshall W. Nirenberg is best known for his research on solving the genetic code. The son of a Jewish shirtmaker father, Nirenberg showed an early interest in biology. He led the National Heart Institute’s genetics department and was associated with the National Institutes of Health.

 41 Shannon Lucid

Shannon Lucid
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: January 14, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shanghai, China

Shannon Lucid once held the record for the longest space stay by any woman and by any American. Born in China, to missionaries, she was imprisoned by the Japanese, along with her parents, as an infant. The family then moved to the U.S., where Lucid studied at the University of Oklahoma.

 42 Stanley B. Prusiner

Stanley B. Prusiner
3
Famous As: Neurologist and Biochemist
Birthdate: May 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States

The son of an architect, Stanley B. Prusiner earned the nickname "little Genius" for inventing a bug repellent in school. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and neurologist is best known for discovering prions, or proteins that cause diseases, and thus suggesting an explanation for the mad cow disease.

 43 Walter Gilbert

Walter Gilbert
5
Famous As: Biochemist, Physicist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: March 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert pioneered research on the sequence of nucleotide links in DNA and RNA molecules. The Harvard and Cambridge alumnus later taught at Harvard. He also co-established firms dealing with genetic engineering and pharmaceutical research and was part of the Human Genome Project.

 44 Elias Zerhouni

Elias Zerhouni
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: April 12, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nedroma, Algeria

Elias Zerhouni was born to a math professor in Algeria and later studied medicine, specializing in radiology, inspired by an uncle. He has been associated with the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University medical school. The former NIH director also developed the existing MRI and CAT scan technologies.

 45 Cesar Milstein

Cesar Milstein
2
Famous As: Biochemist, Immunologist
Birthdate: October 8, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bahía Blanca, Argentina
Died: March 24, 2002

Cesar Milstein was an Argentine biochemist renowned for his work in antibody research. He is credited with developing the Hybridoma technology, a method to produce identical antibodies in large numbers, for which he was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1984. He also received several other awards, including the Copley Medal in 1989.

 46 Richard J. Roberts

Richard J. Roberts
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derby, England,

Molecular biologist Richard J. Roberts is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning research on split genes. The Harvard alumnus had wished to be a detective as a child but changed his mind after being gifted a chemistry set. He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society and knighted.

 47 Christian de Duve

Christian de Duve
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Cytologist
Birthdate: October 2, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Thames Ditton, England
Died: May 4, 2013

Christian de Duve was an English-born Belgian cytologist and biochemist. For his discoveries of two cell organelles, peroxisome and lysosome, he shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Albert Claude and George E. Palade. He was the founder of the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Brussels, which was later renamed in his honor. 

 48 Osamu Shimomura

Osamu Shimomura
3
Famous As: Chemist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kyoto

 49 Robert Lefkowitz

Robert Lefkowitz
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

Born into a family of Polish immigrants, Robert Lefkowitz grew up to be a cardiologist and biochemist, and later taught at Duke University. He is best known for his research on the signal-receiving receptor molecules, such as the GPCRs, which eventually won him a Nobel Prize.

 50 Gregory Goodwin Pincus

Gregory Goodwin Pincus
3
Famous As: Former biologist and researcher who co-invented the combined oral contraceptive pill
Birthdate: April 9, 1903
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Woodbine, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 22, 1967

Gregory Goodwin Pincus revolutionized medical science by co-inventing the first oral contraceptive or birth control pill. The Cornell and Harvard alumnus was born to Russian Jewish immigrants and had an IQ of 210. Though he initially studied agriculture, he later focused on the study of hormones, steroids, and fertility.