John G. Searle
When John G. Searle inherited G.D. Searle & Company in the 1930s, business was brisk. But rather than rest on his family name, John was determined to take the pharmaceutical company to new heights.
John pruned the company's product line to highly specialized and profitable items, laying emphasis on intensive research to fill market niches. The investment began to pay off as their research produced innovations like Metamucil, the first effective but nonirritating laxative launched in 1934. Eight years later came the first motion-sickness pill, Dramamine.
Such groundbreaking drugs quickly became household staples, but even this success could not have prepared the company for the most revolutionary launch of the century: Enovid, the first oral contraceptive. Within four years of the introduction of “the pill” in 1960, company sales increased 135 percent to $87 million.
It was during this era that the Searle family began its charitable partnership with the Trust. In 1964, John G. Searle created the first Searle Fund at The Chicago Community Trust—and launched an enduring charitable partnership.
John stepped down as president of G.D. Searle & Company in 1966, naming his son Daniel to succeed him. When he died in January 1978, the family had become one of Chicago's wealthiest, with an estimated net worth of $250 million. In his will, John expressed the wish that his legacy should support “research in medicine, chemistry and the biological sciences."
To honor his wishes, John’s family developed a program to support independent research from outstanding young biomedical scientists. The Searle Scholars Program was established with $250,000 from the Trustees of the Searle Family Trust under the Will of John G. Searle and Frances C. Searle in 1980. Today, more than $90 million has been awarded to emerging scientists who continue the work and embody the innovative spirit of John G. Searle.