James Bertram Collip

Collip plunged into endocrinological research and was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone. In 1928 he succeeded A.B.

Collip, James Bertram
James B. Collip worked with Banting and Best on the discovery of insulin (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-37756).

James Bertram Collip

 James Bertram Collip, Bert, biochemist, educator, codiscoverer of INSULIN (b at Belleville, Ont 20 Nov 1892; d at London, Ont 19 June 1965). Collip received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Toronto in 1916 and embarked on a long and extremely productive career as a medical researcher. In autumn 1921 he was working with J.J.R. MACLEOD in Toronto during a sabbatical from the University of Alberta, when at Frederick BANTING's request Macleod asked him to join the team investigating the internal secretion of the pancreas. Collip's skills as a biochemist proved invaluable in the research, particularly in his January 1922 discovery of a method of producing a nontoxic, antidiabetic pancreatic extract. Collip produced the first insulin suitable for use on human beings. Serious quarrelling with Banting, however, as well as difficulties with insulin production in the laboratory, caused Collip to return to Alberta at the end of his sabbatical. With C.H. BEST and Banting he was one of the original patentees of insulin, and in 1923 received from Macleod a one-quarter share of the Nobel Prize money awarded to Banting and Macleod.

Collip plunged into endocrinological research and was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone. In 1928 he succeeded A.B. MACALLUM as professor of biochemistry at McGill, where for the next decade he and his students were leaders in endocrinology, pioneering in the isolation and study of the ovarian and gonadotrophic hormones. A dominant figure in Canadian wartime medical research, Collip served as dean of medicine at Western 1947-61. A restless, driven man, Collip had been the best scientist on the insulin team, and afterwards made the most significant contributions to medical research. He did not court honours and seldom discussed the discovery of insulin. During the 1930s he became a good friend of Banting.


Further Reading

  • Michael Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin (1982).