Ralph Dorfman

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Ralph Isadore Dorfman, (1911 – November 19, 1985) was a Jewish American biochemist. His work on metabolism in pharmacology and the use of steroid hormones contributed to the development of the combined oral contraceptive pill.

Dorfman received his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and a doctorate from the University of Chicago. After teaching at several institutions, including Yale University, he became a director at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

While working at the Worcester Foundation, Dorfman was a research consultant to the Syntex Corporation, starting in 1950. There he worked with chemists Carl Djerassi, Luis E. Miramontes, and George Rosenkranz to develop the first publicly available birth control pill, released in 1960. Later in 1964, Dorfman joined Syntex full-time, eventually serving as president of Syntex Research in Palo Alto, California from 1973–1976.

Late in his career, Dorfman returned to academia serving as a visiting professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at Stanford University, 1967–1973, and finally as a consulting professor up to his death in 1985.

Dr. Dorfman's grandson is Barnaby Dorfman.

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