Committee chairman, Roli Tipper, explained, "The goal of the Dr. James Bertram Collip Memorial Committee is to celebrate this local
hero and inform the people of Quinte of his achievements. His story of a Belleville boy, born to a market gardening family who grew up and studied at schools here, can serve as an inspiration to others, particularly young students interested in science."
In 2012, the City of Belleville declared Dr. Collip's birthday, November 20, to be Dr. Collip Day
in Belleville in perpetuity. A memorial plaque was erected by the Ontario Heritage Trust in 2014 just outside the front doors of the Belleville Public Library.
"Belleville's Little-known Hero Marks a Birthday"
Friday Nov 20th is the birthday of a man declared to be one of Canada's greatest medical scientists of the 20th Century but a man who is little-known in his own hometown of Belleville. Celebrated globally as a brilliant and innovative medical science researcher, Dr James Bertram Collip was born on Nov 20th,
1892 and raised in Belleville, the son of a market gardener. In his childhood he could be found at the Belleville Market at his family vegetable/fruit stand.
Showing an early interest and aptitude in science, he graduated from Belleville High School at age 15. Dr Collip then earned a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Toronto at age 20, a Master's degree at age 21, and a PhD at age 24. Relocating to the University of Alberta in Edmonton he achieved a reputation as a highly respected and much sought- after Professor in the burgeoning new field of Biochemistry.
In the fall of 1921, while on sabbatical, he stopped in at his old alma mater, the University of Toronto, at a time when research was being carried out to find a treatment for diabetes. In the laboratory of Professor J.J.R. Macleod, Dr Frederick Banting and grad student Charles Best had made substantial progress in extracting a material from the pancreas they called insulin but had not reached the point where it could be used on humans without side effects.
Because of his advanced knowledge of biochemistry, Dr Collip was invited to join the team. He went to work ina separate lab on campus on Dec 1st, 1921 and by early Jan had purified the insulin extract to the point where it could be used safely on humans. On Jan 23rd, 1922 it was used for the very first time - and successfully - on a dying 14-year old boy at Toronto General Hospital. Since then the lives of countless of millions of diabetics around the world have been saved!
In June 1922, Dr Collip returned to the University of Alberta to continue his advanced research in the emerging field of Endocrinology in which he soon became a world authority.
Collip, Banting and Best were awarded U.S. patents on insulin on Jan 23rd, 1923 and immediately turned around and transferred this to the University of Toronto for $1. Later that same year the Nobel Prize was awarded to Macleod and Banting who shared their cash prizes with Collip and Best.
Dr Collip was first and foremost a research scientist; he loved the life in the laboratory particularly studying the complexities of medical science. For his prowess, in 1928 he was recruited by McGill University in Montreal to chair their Biochemistry Dept. In 1941 he was appointed Chair of McGill's newly established Institute of Endocrinology where, under his guidance, leading edge research was conducted on pituitary hormones and parathyroid hormones.
In recognition of his achievements, during World War II Dr Collip was appointed Chief Medical Officer for the Canadian war effort, working regularly and closely with the British and Americans. In part for these efforts, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (1946) and the President's Medal of Freedom(1947), the latter being rarely awarded to a non-U.S. citizen.
The final stage of his productive and remarkable career saw him appointed Dean of Medicine and Head of Science at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, in 1947, where he oversaw advanced scientific and medical reserach in labs set up in a new building named in his honour.
Dr Collip retired in 1961 and died in London on June 19th, 1965. In 1994 he was elected to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame where he is described as "one of the great minds of Canadian medicine." In 2014, the Ontario Heritage Trust erected a plaque in honour of Dr Collip just outside the front doors to the
Belleville Public Library.
In 2012, the City of Belleville declared Nov 20th to be Dr Collip Day in Belleville and thus it has been ever since.
From a vegetable stand at the Belleville market to the absolute pinnacle of Canada's scientific community and a key member of the Canadian team behind one of the greatest medical discoveries in history, Dr James Bertram Collip deserves the recognition in his hometown of Belleville, long denied him. Happy Dr Collip Day!
The Dr James B Collip Award for Excellence in Science
Sponsored by: The Dr James B Collip Recognition Committee
Award Description: The Dr James B Collip Award for Excellence in Science is an award that honours Dr Collip’s contribution to the discovery of insulin and to his other notable achievements in biochemistry. As a world renowned biochemist of his day, he collaborated to isolate and produce insulin in a form that was effective in treating diabetes. .
Award Criteria: In recognition of a project that investigates science in the medical field.