Contraceptive researcher Wolfgang Jochle

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013:


Wolfgang J. Jochle, 86, died on November 14, 2013 at his home
in Manahawkin, New Jersey. Born in Munich, Germany, Jochle was
drafted into the Nazi Wehrmacht at age 15 and assigned to attend cavalry
horses. Jochle avoided starvation by sharing the horses’ oats,
longtime Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs board member Linda
Rhodes recalled when presenting him with a lifetime achievement award in

Earning a veterinary degree from the University of Munich,
Jochle and his wife Maria Eva Frank Jochle emigrated to Mexico in 1959
to work for Syntax, one of the first companies to market hormonal
contraceptives. Founded in Mexico City by research chemist Russell
Marker in 1944, Syntex synthesized progestin from yam extracts in 1945.
Marker then left Syntex to start his own company. Marker was succeeded
by George Rosencranz, a Hungarian-born steroid researcher who had fled
the Nazis in 1941. Under Rosencranz, Syntex patented one of the first
progestin-based contraceptives in 1951. The Jochles were recruited to
investigate veterinary applications of the Syntex formulas. Initially
director of veterinary research, Wolfgang Jochle later became vice
president of the Syntex international veterinary division.
Developing nine FDA-approved drugs for Syntex, the Jochles
eventually relocated to Palo Alto, California, and then to Denville,
New Jersey, where they founded their own consulting company and lived
for 26 years before moving to Manahawkin in 2002. Among the products
Wolfgang Jochle produced for Syntex was the first contraceptive pill for
dogs, marketed in Europe for many years beginning in 1963 and
introduced to the U.S. in 1974.
“The treatments were very effective,” Jochle told the ACC&D
conference in Breckenridge, Colorado, in 2004, “but the side
effects were unexpected. A catastrophic epidemic of pyometra forced the
sponsor to withdraw the product and it never appeared again. It became
clear that the knowledge base about female canine reproduction on which
all this development hinged was grossly insufficient. As a consequence,
American small animal practitioners lost confidence in hormone-based
Jochle nonetheless continued to research hormonally based
contraceptive methods, and other contraceptive approaches, to the end
of his life. Founder of Theriogenology in 1974, the first
international scientific journal about domestic animal reproduction,
Jochle authored more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and the
book Control of Reproductive Functions in Domestic Animals (1980).
Jochle was also a member of the scientific advisory boards of
both ACC&D and the Michelson Prize & Grants, formed in 2008 by medical
inventor Gary Michelson to offer $75 million in incentives for the
development of a single-dose sterilization method effective in both dogs
and cats.
Along with the intensity of his interest in animal
contraception, Jochle was known to friends for taking an avid interest
in almost anything else that came up in conversation, and for bringing
a depth of knowledge to the discussion, whether the subject was birds,
marine mammals, insects, Volkswagen repairs, music, or travel.
“Wolfgang was one of those folks who are endlessly curious
about everything,” recalled American SPCA science advisor Steve
Zawistowski. “My last conversation with him came as a result of the
July/August 2013 ANIMAL PEOPLE article ‘Does castration really alter
male dog behavior?’ He read it and called to ask me a few questions
about my quotes, and some additional discussion about behavior. We
ended up talking about the Italian castrati and opera.”

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