Tribute to John James Rickard Macleod

By Dr Kenneth McHardy, Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen

100th Anniversary dinner celebrating the Nobel prize to banting and macleod, November 27, 2023
Banquet in the Great Hall of Hart House, University of Toronto, 26 November 1923 in honour of FG Banting and JJR Macleod jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

This image shows the original banquet (for around 400 people) held in the Great Hall at Hart House on Monday 26th November 1923. It shows Macleod (2nd from Rt), Banting (5th) and Best (7th). 

Fifth from left is Charles H. Best, sitting beside Chief Justice Sir William Mulock (white beard), who is sitting next to Dr. Frederick Banting (fourth from right). Professor J. J. R. MacLeod [John James Rickard MacLeod] is at the far right. Others at the Head table include Canon Cody, Chairman of the Board of Governors, third from right; Sir Edmund Walker, Chancellor, second from right; Hon. W.F. Nickle, Attorney-General, fourth from left; Dean Alexander Primrose, third from left; and Albert E. Gooderham, second from left; and J.G. Fitzgerald, far left.

This article was published in the Toronto Daily Star on Tuesday 6th November 1923 reporting on a banquet attended by some 70 guests in the dining hall of the Faculty union in Hart House the previous evening. Hosted by physician, Dr Robert Noble, it honoured Professor Macleod (very recently returned across the Atlantic) and Dr Oskar Klotz. With the Nobel announcement some two weeks previously, the content is focused on Macleod.

Excerpts were read from obituaries to Macleod written by each of the pictured colleagues: i) Boyd Orr as a Scottish physician who was first director of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen and with whom Macleod worked following his return to Aberdeen. Boyd Orr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949 for his contributions to global nutrition. ii) Collip (who needed less introduction) as the biochemist in the Toronto Insulin team who first purified the pancreatic extract making it suitable for clinical use. iii) Cathcart was Macleod’s contemporary as Professor of Physiology at the University of Glasgow. The extracts selected from the obituaries mainly concentrated on Macleod’s character and demeanour – and, in particular, his passion as an educator and supporter of aspiring scientists – rather than on his accomplishments as an academic physiologist and scientific author.

This final image shows the new JJR Macleod statue in Aberdeen’s Duthie Park taken by Press Photographer Darrell Benns who works for DC Thomson, the owner of the company that produces Aberdeen’s Press & Journal. Visitors using the QR code can hear the following sound clip voiced by Aberdeen actor, David Rintoul:

I’m Professor John Macleod, or ‘Jack’ to my friends. My name is little known amongst the fine folk of the Granite City, even though I grew up here, and went on to play a key role in the discovery of insulin back in 1922. In this corner of Scotland, braced at the edge of the mighty North Sea, we’re not that inclined to sing our own praises…]

Macleod “talking Statue” voiced by David Rintoul

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