Gregory Goodwin Pincus
|Gregory Goodwin Pincus|
April 9, 1903|
Woodbine, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||August 22, 1967
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology
|Alma mater||Cornell University
|Known for||Combined oral contraceptive pill|
Birth and education 
Gregory Goodwin Pincus was born in Woodbine, New Jersey, into a Jewish family, the son of Polish-born immigrants Elizabeth (née Lipman) and Joseph Pincus, an agriculture teacher. He credited two uncles, both agricultural scientists, for his interest in research. He went to Cornell University and received a bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1924. He attended Harvard University where he was an instructor in zoology while also working toward his master's and doctorate degrees. From 1927 to 1930 he moved from Harvard to Cambridge University in England to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology with Richard Goldschmidt in Berlin where he performed research. He became an instructor in general physiology at Harvard University in 1930 and was promoted in 1931 to an assistant professor.
Dr. Pincus began studying hormonal biology and steroidal hormones early in his career. His first breakthrough came early, when he was able to produce in vitro fertilization in rabbits in 1934. His experiments involving parthenogenesis produced a rabbit that appeared on the cover of Look magazine in 1937, which may have been a reason for Harvard's having denied Pincus tenure. In 1944, Dr. Pincus co-founded the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
In 1951, Margaret Sanger met Pincus at a dinner hosted by Abraham Stone, director of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau and medical director and vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and procured a small grant from PPFA for Pincus to begin hormonal contraceptive research. Pincus, along with Min Chueh Chang, confirmed earlier research that progesterone would act as an inhibitor to ovulation.
In 1952, Sanger told her friend Katharine McCormick about Pincus and Chang's research. Frustrated by PPFA's meager interest and support, in 1953 McCormick and Sanger met with Pincus to dramatically expand the scope of the research with 50-fold increase in funding from McCormick. In order to prove the safety of "the pill," human trials had to be conducted. These were initiated on infertility patients of Dr. John Rock in Brookline, Massachusetts using progesterone in 1953 and then three different progestins in 1954.
Trials of the pill as a contraceptive could not be performed in Massachusetts because dispensing contraception there was a felony. Puerto Rico was selected as a trial site in 1955, in part because there was an existing network of 67 birth control clinics servicing low-income women on the island. Trials began there in 1956 and were supervised by Dr. Edris Rice-Wray.
Some of the women experienced side effects from "the pill" (Enovid) and Rice-Wray wrote Pincus and reported that Enovid "gives one hundred percent protection against pregnancy [but causes] too many side reactions to be acceptable". Pincus and Rock disagreed based on their experience with patients in Massachusetts and conducted research showing that placebos caused similar side effects. The trials went on and were expanded to Haiti, Mexico and Los Angeles despite high attrition rates, due to the large number of women eager to try this form of contraception.
In May 1960, the FDA extended Enovid's approved indications to include contraception.
He died in 1967 of myeloid metaplasia, a rare blood disease. He was 64 years old and lived in Northborough, Massachusetts. Dr. Pincus's funeral was held Friday August 25, 1967 at Temple Emanuel in Worcester, Massachusetts.
See also 
- "Dr. Pincus, Developer of Birth-Control Pill, Dies". New York Times. August 23, 1967. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Dr. Gregory Goodwin Pincus, one of the three "fathers" of the birth-control pill, died here tonight at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of myeloid metaplasia, a rare blood disease. He was 64 years old and lived in Northboro."
- Encyclopedia of World Biography on Gregory Goodwin Pincus
- The composition nowadays and the real discoverer
- "Dr. Pincus, Developer of Birth Control Pill, Dead; Funeral Services to Be Held Friday." Jewish Telegraphic Agency 24 Aug 1967.
Further reading 
- Briggs, Laura (2002), Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, University Of California Press, ISBN 0-520-23258-5 Unknown parameter
- Tone, Andrea (2001), Devices and Desires, New York: Hill and Wang, A Division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, ISBN 0-8090-3817-X
- Asbell, Bernard (1995), The Pill, New York: Random House, ISBN 0-679-43555-7
- Jensen, E V (1992), "Remembrance: Gregory Pincus--catalyst for early receptor studies", Endocrinology (1992 Oct) 131 (4): 1581–2, doi:10.1210/en.131.4.1581, PMID 1327714
- Vojta, M (1973), "[Gregory G. Pincus, 1903-1967]", Ceskoslovenská gynekologie (1973 Jul) 38 (6): 472–3, PMID 4581418
- Ingle, D J (1971), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus, April 9, 1903-August 22, 1967", Biographical memoirs. National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) 42: 229–70, PMID 11615461
- Garcia, C R (1968), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus. 1903-1967", Int. J. Fertil. 13 (4): 267–9, PMID 4882600
- Hoagland, H (1968), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus", Genetics (1968 Sep) 60 (1): Suppl:27, PMID 4887486
- White, A (1968), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus (1903-1967)", Endocrinology (1968 Apr) 82 (4): 651–4, doi:10.1210/endo-82-4-651, PMID 4912220
- Garcia, C R (1968), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus (1903-1967)", J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1968 Sep) 28 (9): 1245–8, doi:10.1210/jcem-28-9-1245, PMID 4878434
- Bates, R W (1968), "Gregory Goodwin Pincus. 1903-1967", Recent Prog. Horm. Res. 24: v–vi, PMID 4882331
- Weintraub, B. Pincus, Djerassi and Oral Contraceptives. Chemistry in Israel, Bulletin of the Israel Chemical Society. August 2005.