Born in Hungary but educated in Switzerland, George Rosenkranz was one of a number of promising Jewish scientists who were helped in escaping from the shadow of Axis Germany by Nobel Prize winner Leopold Ruzicka. Rosenkranz was traveling to a new post in Ecuador when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and thus had to settle for Batista-era Cuba, where he began working on VD treatments. It was his work here, as well as his rapid pick-up of Spanish, that saw him headhunted for work in Mexico after the war ended. He shone – in 1945 there were no naturalised Mexican citizens with a PHD in chemistry – and in 1951 he had a major breakthrough when a team under his direction became the first to synthesize cortisone, beating out Harvard University by a matter of days. Rosenkranz would later develop Ortho-Novum, the first widely available female contraceptive pill. You’d have thought possible clashes with the Catholic church would then be his biggest problem, but it wasn’t: instead, his efforts to become a bridge grandmaster were hindered when his wife was kidnapped by fellow players in 1984.