Collage Created by Ed Supovitz
Frank Benjamin Colton

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame


Frank Benjamin Colton:
Inducted into the National
Inventors Hall of Fame-1988

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Frank Benjamin Colton was an American Jewish Chemist who was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1988. He synthesized norethynodrel, a progestin used in Enovid, the first oral contraceptive, at G.D. Searle & Co., in Skokie, Illinois.

Colton was born on March 3, 1923, in Poland, to Jewish parents. They immigrated to the United States in 1934 during the depression. He enroled in Northwestern University and received his B.S. in chemistry, 1945, and his M.S. in chemistry in 1946. He then went to the University of Chicago where he received his Ph.D. in 1950.

Colton became a research fellow at the Mayo Foundation where he worked with Nobel Laureate Edward C. Kendall to develop an improved synthesis of cortisone, 1949-1951.

He then went to G.D. Searle as a research chemist, in 1951. Colton synthesized the progestin norethynodrel which mixed with the estrogen mestranol and labeled Enovid and was approved by the FDA in 1956.

Colton synthesized norethindrone, in 1953, which was called Nilevar, and approved in 1956 as the first oral antibiotic, in 1956. He worked with Paul D. Klimstra and they synthesized the progestin ethynodiol diacetate, combined the estogen mestranol, known as Ovulen. It was approved in 1965 as the second oral contraceptive for G. D. Searle & Company.

Frank B. Colton retired from G.D. Searle in 1986 and he became a research advisor. He died on November 25, 2003


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