Online - 100 Years of Insulin: The Aberdeen Story


Online Exhibition


23 January 2022 marked the centenary of the first successful treatment of a diabetic patient with insulin. Whilst this treatment took place in Toronto, Canada, here in Aberdeen we’re celebrating the remarkable role of two Aberdonians in this major scientific breakthrough and its life-saving use.   

John Macleod (1876-1935), a highly respected research physiologist, led the team in Toronto which successfully developed usable insulin, for which he was jointly awarded a Nobel Prize. Robin Lawrence (1892-1968), a doctor and an early recipient of the miracle drug went on to co-found what is now Diabetes UK. He campaigned for better life opportunities, help with treatment costs, and recognition that people with diabetes can live full and productive lives. 

To mark the centenary we’ve put together this online presentation which highlights a selection of objects from the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums collection and guest curator, retired consultant Dr Ken McHardy, formerly of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, presents an illustrated talk on the discovery of insulin.



We’re also grateful to Heather Hagan and Richard Bemand who responded to our call for people to share their experiences of living with diabetes. Their guest blogs provide a glimpse of how significant insulin continues to be for millions of people worldwide. You can also listen to Martin Scivier reflect on a selection of the insulin-related objects in our collections in short audio memories. 
To explore the Aberdeen story further, take a look at the commemorative plaques and use our trail to discover city locations that relate to the lives and achievements of these remarkable Aberdonians. 


This online exhibition has been developed in partnership with Explorathon 2021 at the University of Aberdeen. Explorathon is delivered by a consortium of four Scottish universities and is part of European Researchers’ Night which aims to raise the profile of research and research careers. Explorathon is funded by the European Commission under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme - grant agreement No 101036101. 

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