NEWS

Canada's insulin discovery enshrined in UNESCO's Memory of World register

06/19/2013 02:15 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The original documents detailing Canada's discovery of life-saving insulin have been inscribed into UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

The Memory of the World Register protects and promotes documentary collections of global significance.

The Discovery of Insulin collection from the University of Toronto Libraries records one of the most significant medical discoveries of the 20th century.

The 7,000-page collection includes handwritten notes by Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and John Macleod about early experiments and the successful use of insulin.

Patient letters and charts, photographs, lab notebooks and other documents record the process of discovery and insulin's development at the university.

Banting and Macleod were awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize for medicine. To give credit, Banting shared his cash award with Best and Macleod shared his with Collip.

The discovery of insulin in the 1920s had an enormous impact on people with diabetes worldwide. Prior to its development, the disease was mostly treated with a strict diet, which inevitably led to starvation if not death from the disease.

When five-year-old Teddy Ryder arrived in Toronto for treatment, he weighed just 27 pounds. The following year, he wrote to Banting from his home in Connecticut, informing him that, "I am a fat boy now and I feel fine." Ryder lived for more than 70 years on insulin.

"Inscription in the Memory of the World register recognizes the global significance of these documents, which will be preserved in perpetuity by the University of Toronto Libraries," Anne Dondertman, associate librarian for special collections, said Wednesday in a release.

"While preserving the originals, our innovative work in the area of digitization ensures that collections such as these are made accessible to both the local and international communities."

MORE:cpNews