The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
George Rosenkranz begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood years in Budapest, Hungary. After graduation from the German School, Rosenkranz attended the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. There, he received his BS in chemical engineering in 1938 and his PhD in 1939. Rosenkranz studied under several luminaries in chemistry, most notably, Leopold Ruzicka. After receiving his PhD, Rosenkranz worked as a research assistant in Leopold Ruzicka’s lab, where he headed a group researching triterpenes. In 1941, Rosenkranz had agreed to teach organic chemistry at the University of Quito, leaving in October 1941 to make the long trip to Ecuador. His three-week-long boat trip eventually stalled in Cuba. While waiting for the boat to Ecuador, Rosenkranz decided to remain in Havana. There he also met his future wife, Edith Stein. Rosenkranz soon landed a position as Director of Research at the Vieta Plasencia Lab. In 1945, Rosenkranz joined Syntex Corporation in Mexico as Scientific Director. His immediate work was on progesterone synthesis. Rosenkranz hired several up-and-coming scientists to work at Syntex, including Carl Djerassi and Alejandro Zaffaroni. Syntex’s major successes were the synthesis of cortisone and Djerassi’s synthesis of oral contraceptives, thus turning a little-known company into a major pharmaceutical powerhouse. In 1982, Rosenkranz retired as chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Syntex. Rosenkranz concludes the interview with a discussion of Syntex’s growth, and thoughts on his family and future endeavors.
|1938||Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule)||BS||Chemical Engineering|
|1939||Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule)||Dr. Sci. Tech.|
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule)
Vieta Plasencia Lab
Industria, Ciencia, Tecnologia (ICT)
Mexican Citizenship Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the nation
Dr. Leopold Rio de la Loza National Prize of Pharmaceutical Sciences
About the Interviewer
James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.