Someone on Twitter is organizing a TTRPG bundle with all proceeds going to reproductive rights. You can submit your game here:
I dunno whether to valorize the guy since his previous work was for fossil fuels, and I can't tell from these sources if his motivation was for justice & accessible medicine or being petty & starting fights with business majors... but thanks for letting me have boobs, at least.
Marker eventually retired to a private life of commissioning reproductions of 18th-century silversmiths' work and nitpicking the pieces by spending a lot of time in museums looking at the originals.
The poor chemist the partners brought in to clean it up had to basically reinvent the process from whatever he had left behind.
Oh, also he stopped being the only one in the world who knew how to do the process (talk about modern alchemy) after getting into another fight with his partners and left behind a lab full of unlabeled ingredients and no instructions.
Long story short, since hormones were like liquid gold, it ended up kickstarting the Mexican steroid industry and the institute of chemistry at the largest public university in Latin America.
The article doesn't say why he persisted (maybe from his experience with how hard it was to transport the damn things?), but it was enough that Marker ditched proto-Pfizer, didn't patent shit for them, and moved to Mexico to find collaborators there.
But he was convinced that it made more sense to, y'know, do the processing where the yams grow instead of lugging these huge things halfway across the world. His collaborators (proto-Pfizer) were like "um lol no Mexico doesn't have a pharmaceutical industry so rasicm rasicm"
Now usually the way this story goes is: he patents it, founds a US-based corporation, and makes its fortune by exploiting the biodiversity of other countries.
Anyway, he gets a single 50 pound tuber back, renders it into syrup, makes the largest batch of progesterone the world had ever seen — selling this ONE batch of potato-goop for millions of today's dollars.
(they stories say they were stolen, but remember he's here Indiana Jonesing these native plants without a license for transport across international borders... so who's really the thief)
But he was helped by the locals, found the root, bagged two of them (remember these are BIG), and loaded them onto the top of a bus... which were promptly stolen and he only got one back by bribing a policeman.
(ignoring the advice of the US embassy bc WWII was on and there was "widespread anti-American sentiment")
So he started going on field trips out into the woods and deserts looking for good tubers. When we saw a picture in a magazine of a 100 kilo root from mexico called Dioscorea or cabeza de negro he dropped everything and was like "I gotta get that tater" and went to Mexico city.
Russell Marker was a chemist who did that movie-scientist thing of "everybody else is wrong about this, my own research shows that these side-chains in this family of molecules are reactive under certain conditions. If only I could get an abundant source of them from plants..."
Neurobiologist (crescentloom.com) — game dev (witchdice.com) — web dev (abortionfinder.org) — trans & gaaaaay (wick.itch.io/aesthetic) 🌺
The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!