Mario Molina, the Mexican that won a Nobel Prize back in 1995

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Mexican engineer Mario Molina is credited with creating the synthetic hormone that made oral contraceptives possible, the pills that not only help prevent pregnancy but also alleviate menstrual pain, reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and treat acne and endometriosis.

José Mario Molina Pasquel y Henríquez was born in Mexico City on March 19, 1943. He studied Chemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and completed postgraduate studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany (1967), and at the University of Berkeley, California, in the United States (1972), where he received a doctorate in Physicochemistry.

He was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1989 and 2004 and a professor-researcher at Irvine University, California, (1975-1979), and professor-researcher at UNAM between 1967 and 1968. Member of numerous scientific academies around the world which have conferred multiple recognitions and awards on him, among others, 40 honorary doctorates.

Dr Mario Molina, the Mexican that won a Nobel Prize back in 1995, decorated by US President Barack Obama (Photo: Reuters)

  • In 1951, chemical engineer Luis Miramontes and two colleagues created the first synthesized progesterone, which they named norethindrone, in a Mexico City lab.
  • Norethindrone was patented in 1956 and was first marketed in 1962 as a component of the Ortho-Novum pill, in use to this day.

Mario Molina led some of the earliest research on climate change, as co-author of a groundbreaking 1974 paper that linked gas emissions from spray cans and refrigerators to the depletion of the ozone layer.


  • Molina’s work, alongside Dutch Paul Crutzen and American F. Sherwood Rowland, paved the way for the Montreal Protocol.
  • Environmentalists and diplomats view it as the most effective environmental treaty to date, and it has since been updated to address some contributors to climate change.
  • Mario Molina, an adviser to two U.S. presidents and the only Mexican to win a science Nobel prize.

Dr Mario Molina receiving the Nobel Prize December 10, 1995.

On December 10, 1995, Dr. Mario Molina received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry at a ceremony held in Stockholm, Sweden. He was deserving of this recognition for his research on atmospheric chemistry and the prediction of the thinning of the ozone layer as a consequence of the emission of certain industrial gases, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), published in an article in the journal Nature in June of 1974.

Dr. Molina received the Nobel Prize that year along with his colleague from the University of California-Irvine, Frank Sherwood Rowland, and the Dutch Paul Crutzen.


His unfortunate death occurred on October 7, 2021, but his contribution to atmospheric research and the care of the ozone layer is a legacy for humanity.

The man will always be remembered for the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry that he gave to Mexico.

Source: Centro Mario Molina

Mexico Daily Post