After numerous rejections, Julian was eventually offered a position at a research institute in Appleton, Wisconsin. Calabar beans contain the alkaloid physostigmine also called eserinewhich reduces pressure inside the eyeball.
Physicians knew the drug helped to treat glaucoma, but they didn't know how to get the large quantities they needed. There they accomplished the first total synthesis of physostigmine, the active principle of the Calabar bean, used since the end of the 19th century to treat glaucoma.
Julian first synthesized the drug physostigmine, previously only available from its natural source, the Calabar bean. Percy Julian was honored on this stamp issued by the U. His science of successfully making hormones from plants stood out in the history of medicine and improved human lives worldwide.
Julian had achieved the status of world-class chemist at age 36 Haber, In the s chemists recognized the structural similarity of a large group of natural substances—the steroids. Eventually, Julian found a place on campus. These turned out to be a plant steroid called stigmasterol. He was on the board of several colleges and universities and was awarded many honorary degrees.
After three years, Julian was close to synthesizing the chemical.