Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Nobel Prize for the Discovery of Insulin to Banting and Macleod: Impact and Legacy

– The Toronto Medical Historical Club 
A symposium reflecting on a century of medical discovery to inspire future research advancement

A highly successful symposium was held November 27, 2023 at 2:00-5:00 EST
Campbell Conference Facility
1 Devonshire Place (at Trinity College) Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3K7 Canada

Video Recording of Symposium

9:00 am – 12:00 pm 
A special curated display of materials related to the discovery of insulin, including the Nobel Prize medal.

Location: Fisher Rare Book Library, Robarts Library 
120 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST – In-person and on Zoom

Location: Campbell Conference Facility, 
1 Devonshire Place (at Trinity College) Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3K7 Canada

Welcome Remarks
Dr. John Dirks, Toronto
Professor Patricia Brubaker, Toronto

“The Optimal Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine”
Professor Erling Norrby, Stockholm

“Events, Fanfare, and Fallout Following the Nobel Prize Awarded to Banting and Macleod”
Professor James Wright, Calgary

“The Discovery of Insulin, the Nobel Prize and How it Stimulated Research for Over 100 Years”
Professor Ronald Kahn, Boston

“Beyond Diabetes: GLP-1 is Changing Outcomes for People with Cardiometabolic Diseases”
Professor Daniel Drucker, Toronto

“Insulin and Beyond: Addressing the Challenges of Diabetes in the 21st Century”
Professor Lorraine Lipscombe, Toronto

Panel for Discussion and Q&A

Our Sponsors
"Insulin wins great prize" article in Literary Digest, photographs of Collip, Macleod, Banting, Best
Insulin 100 News

First Canadian Nobel Prize is 100 years old

Christopher Rutty is interviewed in this article “L’insuline, découverte vitale et bisbille créatrice : le 1er Nobel canadien a 100 ans” at CBC/Radio-Canada. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Frederick Banting and JJR Macleod for the discovery of insulin.

Chris is also featured in the television story on the centenary that is available here.

Insulin 100 News

Unveiling of JJR Macleod Memorial Statue in Aberdeen

John Dirks travelled to Aberdeen to speak at the unveiling of a memorial statue commemorating John James Rickard Macleod, co-discoverer of insulin. Over 300 people attended the luncheon and unveiling of the statue.

The JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society has been working for over a year to raise the funds and commission a sculpture by Ayrshire-based sculptor John McKenna. The statue is located at Aberdeen’s Duthie Park and will be the first “storytelling statue” in Scotland. Visitors will be able to scan a QR code to hear a brief recording of an actor speaking as Macleod.

The unveiling and gala reception was held on October 12, 2023. John also attended the Andrew Carnegie Lecture, October 11, presented by Professor C. Ronald Kahn MD, the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief Academic Officer at Joslin Diabetes Centre. This year’s lecture is held in honour of JJR Macleod.


Ode to Ingenuity

MADAS VII T Mechanical Calculator, 1940s [Photo: Kailee Mandel, UT Magazine]

Erich Weidenhammer is interviewed in the article “Ode to Ingenuity” in the University of Toronto Magazine. The beautifully illustrated article describes the importance of historical scientific instruments. Erich explains how an artifact can provide insights beyond what can be gleaned from scientific papers.

Erich is curator of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection which gathers, safeguards, researches, catalogues, and interprets the material heritage of research at the University of Toronto. It is one of the largest collections of historical scientific instruments in Canada.


Wondrous Transformations

Alison Li’s book Wondrous Transformations: A maverick physician, the science of hormones, and the birth of the transgender revolution was published September 26 by University of North Carolina Press. It is a biography of Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pivotal figure in the development of transgender healthcare.

“I’ve been hoping for a long time that somebody would write this book. Alison Li has produced a highly readable, authoritatively researched biography of Harry Benjamin, whose contributions to transgender medicine are not as widely known as they should be. A much-needed corrective.”

Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History

“With Wondrous Transformations, Alison Li has written a compelling and eminently readable biography that is at the same time magisterial in the scope and depth of its research. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of science, medicine, or trans iterations of the same.”

Jules Gill-Peterson, author of Histories of the Transgender Child

Alison is featured in an Author Profile in Quill and Quire.

Insulin 100 News

Macleod Special Issue of CJHH

We are delighted to announce that “J.J.R. Macleod, Reconsidered: Insulin and Beyond,” an issue of Canadian Journal of Health History (Volume 40, issue 2) is now live on the UTP journals site. It is available via Open Access, thanks to a generous grant from AMS Healthcare. This issue is co-edited by Alison Li, Christopher Rutty, and James Wright and includes articles by Kenneth McHardy, Edwin Gale, Christopher Rutty, and James Wright.

This special issue emerges from the historical workshop on JJR Macleod hosted by the Toronto Medical Historical Club on May 4, 2022, after the “Banting, Bliss, and Beyond” day-long symposium. The planning committee for the symposium consisted of John Dirks, Chair, Peter Kopplin, Secretary, Aubie Angel, Alison Li, Christopher J. Rutty, and Carol Sawka.

We invite you to read these articles which explore the life and career of Macleod, a scientist whose accomplishments have received relatively little attention and whose role in the discovery of insulin continues to be misunderstood.


Bring Your Cancer Stories to Life! Workshop

Charles Hayter will be presenting a workshop “Bring Your Cancer Stories to Life! Techniques to Improve Your Cancer Narratives” at the International Cancer Education Conference. The session will be held Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 7:30-9:00 AM at Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, 525 Bay St., Toronto. Advanced registration and fee is required.

Charles is the author of Cancer Confidential: Backstage Dramas in the Radiation Clinic, now available wherever books are sold.

Past events

Jane’s Walk 2023

Irv Rosen describes Norman Bethune's life and work [Photo: C. Rutty]

Members of the Toronto Medical Historical Club invited the public to join us on a 1.5 hour walking tour of key sites in our city’s medical history on May 5, 6, and 7. Peter Kopplin organized the tour and developed a script full of interesting details about medical discovery, art, architecture, and the people behind them.

Peter Kopplin at Women's College Hospital
Peter Kopplin at Women’s College Hospital [Photo: D. Mazierski]

Additional help in planning and leading the tour came from Alison Li, David Mazierski, and Charles Hayter.

John Dirks discussed J.J.R.Macleod’s contribution to the discovery of insulin in front of the Macleod Auditorium. Irv Rosen shared his knowledge of Norman Bethune’s life and work.

At the MARS Building, Christopher Rutty led us through the excellent exhibit on the insulin discovery and Ken Pritzker helped us to appreciate the work of James Till & Ernest McCullough.

John Dirks at Macleod Auditorium [Photo: C. Rutty]
John Dirks at Macleod Auditorium [Photo: C. Rutty]

We had a terrific group of participants and gorgeous sunny weather for the first two days, and a smaller group of stalwarts who came out despite the rain for our concluding walk. It was a great opportunity for us to share our enthusiasms with the public.

Statue of Till & McCullough
Alison Li at the statue of Till & McCullough [Photo: C. Hamm]

Past events

Medical Discovery Walk at Jane’s Walk

Join Peter Kopplin, Charles Hayter, Alison Li, and the members of the Toronto Medical Historical Club for a walking tour of important sites in Toronto’s medical history, as part of this year’s Jane’s Walk.

Friday, 5 May 2023
Saturday, 6 May 2023
Sunday, 7 May 2023
1:00 PM. – 2:30 PM

Language: English

Theme: Architecture and Urban Planning, History and Community

Accessibility: Busy sidewalks. Walk leader will use audio amplification

Start location: 160 College Street, a few steps west of College and University. Walk leaders will have Jane’s Walk sign.

End location: Queen’s Park SE subway station


“Radical” by Charles Hayter

Village Players presents a Zoom presentation of Charles Hayter’s play Radical, based on the true story of Dr. Vera Peter’s battle to improve breast cancer treatment.

Written by Charles Hayter
Directed by Bridget Jankowski, with Meg Gibson
Produced by Bill Hammond
(Drama with strong imagery)

Live ZOOM Performances: Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, 2023 – both @ 8:00pm
For tickets and more information visit Village Players

Charles Hayter is a physician and award-winning playwright whose most recent book is Cancer Confidential: Backstage Dramas in the Radiation Clinic (University of Toronto Press, 2022)