A scientist ahead of his time
Frederik Paulsen (1909-1997) was born in Germany and grew up in Kiel, where he showed an early interest in art and literature. His teachers described him as independent, and a non-conformist thinker. Frederik eventually carried these traits into left-wing political activity that would have a major impact on his life.
From Germany to Sweden
Frederik chose a career in medicine, not least, because it was a profession he could practise wherever he lived in the world. Before he finished his final examinations at the Kiel University Gynaecological Clinic in 1933, the Gestapo arrested him for distributing literature protesting against the killing of a leading Social Democrat. Frederik Paulsen was in jail for most of the next two years. In 1935, his family helped him flee Germany between arrests and on his 26th birthday he arrived in Sweden.
Despite his refugee predicament, he soon found work performing hormone research for Organon and Pharmacia. Dr. Paulsen gradually gained recognition among his Swedish colleagues, and became a regular lecturer at Lund University.
In the 1940s, Dr. Paulsen turned his back on the overcrowded field of general hormone research to focus on peptide hormones. Peptides, however, had no real commercial value until 1948, when two American researchers discovered adrenocorticotrophin hormone (ACTH), or stress hormone, in the pituitary gland, which showed a dramatic therapeutic effect on asthma and arthritis. Dr. Paulsen and his research assistant, Eva Frandsen, succeeded in producing ACTH in their basement laboratory in the Biochemical Institute in Stockholm.
Dr. Paulsen offered his expertise in ACTH to a number of big pharmaceutical companies but in 1950, he decided to establish his own company, the Nordic Hormone Laboratory, later to be renamed Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Devoted to Ferring
When Dr. Paulsen turned 60, he and Eva, whom he married in 1958, began to withdraw from the day-to-day operations of Ferring. He gradually handed Ferring's management over to his youngest son, Frederik, who served as Chief Executive Officer for some years before becoming Chairman of the Board.
Eva and Dr. Frederik Paulsen retired to the Paulsen family home on Föhr, where they remained active in inspiring Ferring's on-going research into new fields of medicine. They also devoted themselves to the people of Föhr, and to the preservation of their history and culture. Dr. Paulsen died there in 1997 at the age of 88.
In his later years, Dr. Paulsen's advice to young researchers was: "Real success is serendipity and the scientific work that attracts fellow scientists. It's better to work on research without thinking about money. Goal-oriented research is remarkably unproductive."