Monday, February 05, 2007

"Forgotten Genius" on PBS: Percy Julian's story

Tonight on PBS at 7pm Central, Nova is airing "Forgotten Genius," the story of Percy Julian, an African American chemist who made a number of ground-breaking discoveries during the early and mid 1900s.

The 2 hour long program will include "Archival footage, dramatic reenactments featuring Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson and remarks from family and friends tell the story of organic chemist Percy Julian (1899-1975)."

The accompanying site has an interactive timeline of his many contributions, including work with alkaloids that had implications for therapy of heart disease symptoms and glaucoma, a discovery that helped launch the steroid industry, and developing scores of products from the soy bean including a foam that helped fight fires on US military vessels during WWII.

If you missed it or you just want to see it again, you can watch this episode of Nova online - they've divided it into 13 segments for easier viewing (available in QuickTime, Windows Media Player, or RealVideo formats).


At 5:03 PM, Anonymous amani said...

That was an awesome program! I think its amazing that even when the opportunity existed for him to make a profit when his team of scientists figured out how to make one of the drugs cheaply, he opted instead to make the drug available to the public at a reduced price. This great scientist was dedicated to people and wanted to help people before making a profit. He totally deserved it when he ended up making a ton of money anyway even after this price lowering!! I wish more pharmaceutical companies were like him. The only one I can think of that is somewhat similar is OneWorldHealth (not a plug, I'm in no way affiliated with this company).

At 6:10 PM, Blogger BeckyJ said...

I completely agree, Amani -- his strength of personality and his commitment to science for humanity's benefit struck me as so altruistic, and the documentary did such a great job pulling together commentary from people who knew him or his work! I've heard a little bit about OneWorldHealth and it does seem to share a similar mission, will be great to see how it develops. It sounds as if they're working closely with the biomedical community to develop collaborations, hopefully exciting things will unfold!


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