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Gregory Pincus

(1903 - 1967)

PINCUS, GREGORY GOODWIN (1903–1967), U.S. biologist. Born in Woodbine, New Jersey, he pursued his interest in the genetics of physiological characteristics. In post-doctoral studies at Cambridge and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute he began investigations of steroid control of reproductive cycles. After teaching appointments at Harvard, Cambridge, and Clark University, he rounded the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in 1944 with H. Hoagland. As research director he pioneered development of the widely used oral contraceptive. Having discovered earlier that the hormone progesterone, present in increased amounts during pregnancy, prevented ovulation, Pincus tested some 200 progesterone-like compounds for their effectiveness as ovulation suppressors. In 1954 he and Dr. John Rock began clinical testing of the most promising of these. Their method proved to be virtually 100% effective in preventing conception. Its widespread adoption in the ensuing decade had great medical and sociological consequences.

Pincus was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1939) and the National Academy of Sciences (1965). He wrote The Control of Fertility (1965), co-authored Steroid Dynamics (1966), and was editor of Recent Progress in Hormone Research, proceedings of the 1966 Laurentian Hormone Conference (vol. 23, 1967).


Current Biography Yearbook 1966 (1967), 314–6; New York Times (Aug. 23, 1967), 45.

[George H. Fried]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.