Luis E. Miramontes Cárdenas

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Born on the 16th of March 1925 in Tepic, Nayarit. Prolific Mexican chemist, his scientific work is very vast, covering many written publications and nearly 40 national and international patents on organic chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, petrochemicals and the chemistry of environmental pollutants.

Among his multiple contributions to Mexican and universe science, the most outstanding is the synthesis of norethisterone in 1951, when Miramontes was only 26 years old. This compound is the base of the first oral synthetic contraceptive, better known as the contraceptive pill. Miramontes  a young Mexican chemist doing his undergraduate bachelor’s thesis work at Syntex under the direction of Djerass, Miramontes completed the first ever synthesis of Norethisterone. This is why the name of Miramontes was inscribed next to Pasteur, Edison, Bell and the Wright brothers in the USA Inventors Hall of Fame.

This invention has been awarded multiple recognitions; here is a list of only a few:

- In 1964 this pill was recognized by the United States Department of Patents as one of the 40 most important inventions registered from 1794 to 1964.

- In 2000, the contraceptive pill was named three times as one of the most important inventions in the last 2000 years by a group of outstanding personalities, including many Nobel Prize winners.

- In 2003, norethisterone was considered one of the 17 most important molecules in the history of humankind.

- In 2004, the invention of Luis E. Miramontes was selected as the twentieth most important of all times in an election organized by SCENTA of The Engineering and Technology Board of the United Kingdom.

- In 2005, the Mexican Science Academy named the invention of Luis E. Miramontes as Mexico’s most important contribution to world science in the XX century.


He obtained his first Degree in chemical engineering in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He was a founding researcher of the Institute of Chemistry of UNAM, specializing mainly in the area of Organic Chemistry. He was a professor of the Faculty of Chemistry of UNAM, Director and professor of the School of Chemistry at the Universidad Iberoamericana, and deputy Director of Research at the Mexican Institute of Petroleum (IMP). Miramontes was a member of diverse scientific societies, such as the American Chemical Society (Emeritus), the Mexican Institute of Chemical Engineers, the National Institute of Chemical and Chemical Engineers, the Chemical Society of Mexico, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the New York Academy of Sciences.

Luis E. Miramontes died on the 13th of September 2004 in Mexico City.

 

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