First successful test on human with diabetes

It was on this day in 1922 that the first successful test on a human patient with diabetes occurred when a second dose of insulin is administered to dangerously ill Leonard Thompson.

Following the birth of an idea and nine months of experimentation, and through the combined efforts of four men at the University of Toronto; insulin for the treatment of diabetes was first discovered and later purified for human use.

Rural Canadian physician Dr. F.G. Banting first conceived the idea of extracting insulin from the pancreas in 1920. He and his assistant C.H. Best prepared pancreatic extracts to prolong the lives of diabetic dogs with advice and laboratory aid from Professor J.J.R. Macleod. The crude insulin extract was purified for human testing by Dr. J.B. Collip.

Insulin, now made from cattle pancreas, lifted the death sentence for diabetes sufferers around the world.

In November, 2011, the Bank of Canada issued its first $100 polymer banknote. The design of the $100 bank note celebrates Canadian innovation in medical research, including the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes.

The design of the $100 bank note celebrates Canadian innovation in medical research, including the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes.

Research from the Bank of Canada archives, explains the images in more detail:

Researcher at a Microscope:

Drawn by the bank note designers, the image of the researcher depicted on the $100 note represents Canada’s long-standing commitment to medical research, and all the men and women who have contributed to this field. The image of the microscope is based on a Carl Zeiss Axioplan 2 imaging microscope used for cutting-edge health research worldwide.


This image is based on a photograph of one of the earliest insulin bottles. The original artefact, dating back to 1923 is owned by Sanofi Pasteur Canada. The photograph used as the basis for the bank note image is owned by the University of Toronto. The discovery of insulin to treat diabetes was made by Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921.

Insulin continues to save millions of lives today.



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