Collage Created by Ed Supovitz
Leo H. Sternbach

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame


Leo H. Sternbach: Inducted
into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame-2005

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Leo Henryk Sternbach was an American Jewish inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in 2005, for his invention of Valium. Patent number 3,371,085.

He was born on May 7, 1908, in Opatija, then in Austria-Hungry, which is now part of Croatia. Sternbach spent his childhood in Opatija. He went to the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where he received his doctoral degree in organic chemistry, in 1931.

Sternbach went to work for Hoffman-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, in 1940. With the Nazis occupying Europe, his company helped Sternbach, a Jew, to escape and emigrate to the United States. He resumed working for Hoffman-La Roche in their Nutley, New Jersey facility. He was with them more than 60 years.

He had more than 240 patents and his discoveries, included Librium and Valium, which helped make Hoffman-La Roche a pharmaceutical industry giant. He enjoyed working for them as he could freely do any research in chemistry.

Sternbach was a resident of Upper Montclair, New Jersey for 60 years. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in February 2005, a few moths before he died on September 28, 2005.


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S.E. Wimberly Library


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Last updated 12 December 2008