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100 Years of Insulin: The Aberdeen Story

The first successful treatment of a diabetic patient with insulin was 100 years ago on January 23, 2022

Online Exhibition

The first successful treatment of a diabetic patient with insulin was 100 years ago on January 23, 2022. While this treatment took performed in Toronto, Canada, two Aberdonians played a pivotal role in this great scientific breakthrough and its life-saving application here in Aberdeen.

John Macleod (1876-1935), a well-known research physiologist, led the Toronto team that successfully created practical insulin, for which he shared the Nobel Prize. Robin Lawrence (1892-1968), a doctor who was one of the first people to get the miracle medicine, went on to co-found Diabetes UK. He advocated for more chances in life, financial assistance with treatment costs, and acknowledgement that persons with diabetes can live full and productive lives.

To commemorate the centenary, the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery and Museum has created an online presentation that features a selection of artefacts from the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums collection, as well as an illustrated talk on the discovery of insulin by retired consultant Dr Ken McHardy, formerly of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The Aberdeen Archives, Gallery and Museum would also like to thank Heather Hagan and Richard Bemand for responding to their request for people to share their diabetes stories. Their guest blogs demonstrate how important insulin remains for millions of people around the world. You can also listen to Martin Scivier reflect on a selection of the insulin-related objects in their collections in short audio memories.

To explore the Aberdeen narrative further, have a look at the commemorative plaques and utilise their trail to identify city landmarks that relate to the lives and achievements of these outstanding Aberdonians.

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