John James Rickard MacLeod


John James Rickard MacLeod Famous memorial

Clunie, Perth and Kinross, Scotland
Death 16 Mar 1935 (aged 58)
Aberdeen, Aberdeen City, Scotland
Burial Aberdeen, Aberdeen City, Scotland
Memorial ID 148072420 View Source

Nobel Prize Recipient. He received world-wide notoriety after being awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he received the coveted honor jointly with a young Canadian researcher, Dr. Frederick Banting, "for the discovery of insulin." Of course, this was a life-changing medication for diabetic patients, who were dying with the complications of their chronic condition. After learning that Banting was interested in researching the isolation of insulin in hope of a cure for diabetes, he gave Banting research funding, a laboratory, and assigned a young medical student, Charles Herbert Best, to assist Banting. They isolated the insulin in an experiment on July 30, 1921. A diabetic dog was injected with isolated insulin and the dog's blood sugar dropped. After Banting and Best published a paper on their findings, they joined MacLeod, who was the President of the American Physiological Society, to traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to present the results at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society. After the first patient that was injected had a reaction, the insulin had to be refined before a pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company, started mass production. Although MacLeod had written numerous papers on diabetes, funded the research project and gave guidance when needed, he did not actually have hands-on in the original research. Banting became very annoyed that Best did not received one single nomination to be a Nobel Prize candidate, thus gifted part of his monitory prize to his colleague. Though Banting disagreed with the Nobel Committee, he blamed MacLeod. MacLeod in turn gave half of his monetary prize to biochemist Dr. James Bertram Collip, who he had brought in to the research in April of 1921 to extract the insulin, later refining the insulin to prevent allergic reactions. To explain his viewpoint of the situation, MacLeod wrote in 1922 a report on the discovery, but otherwise refrained from any active involvement in credit controversy, which was receiving heavy newspaper coverage. Born the son of a minister, MacLeod received his early education in local schools before entering the Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen to study medicine, graduating with honors in 1898. He was awarded the Anderson Traveling Fellowship, which enabled him to travel to Germany for a year to study at the Institute for Physiology at the University of Leipzig. Upon returning to England in 1899, he was appointed Demonstrator of Physiology at the London Hospital Medical School, and in 1902 he was appointed Lecturer in Biochemistry at the same college. In the same year, he was awarded a doctorate degree in public health from Cambridge University, published his first paper, "Phosphorus Content in Muscles," and received the McKinnon Research Studentship of the Royal Society. In 1903 he emigrated to the United States to accept a Professorship in Physiology at the Western Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio. In 1905 he first became interested in carbohydrate metabolism and diabetes publishing a series of scientific papers. He joined the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada in 1918 starting as associate dean of medicine but eventually becoming Dean of Medicine and director of the physiological laboratory. This is the laboratory Banting used to isolate insulin in 1921. Leaving the University of Toronto, he accepted a position in 1923 at the Marine Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, continuing his studies of the metabolism of carbohydrates. Returning to Scotland in 1928 he was appointed Regius Professor of Physiology at the University of Aberdeen, a post which he held, together with that of Consultant Physiologist to the Rowett Institute for Animal Nutrition, until his early death. During his career, he wrote 200 papers and published eleven textbooks. Besides receiving the Nobel Prize, he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1919, awarded the Cameron Prize for Therapeutic of the University of Edinburg in 1923, and a member of the British, Scottish, German, and Italian Royal Societies. In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In 1971 the President of the International Diabetes Federation and chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physiology and Medicine, Dr. Roif Luft stated Romanian scientist, Nicolæ Paulescu, had documented earlier research and actually was the first to discover insulin. According to Luft, the 1923 Nobel Prize was presented based on the nomination information at the time, but more solid documentation was submitted later, thus the award should have been given to Banting, Best, and Paulescu.

Bio by: Linda Davis


Born 6th Sept 1876
Died 16th March 1935
And his wife
Born 30th July 1876
Died 28th August 1940

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