M Bliss
Journal Issue: 
Volume 43: Issue 4: 2013



John JR Macleod (1876–1935,) an Aberdonian Scot who had emigrated
to North America, shared the 1923 Nobel Prize with Frederick Banting for their
discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921–22. Macleod finished his
career as Regius Professor of Physiology at the University of Aberdeen from 1928
to 1935. Macleod’s posthumous reputation was deeply tarnished by the campaigns
against him carried out by his fellow laureate, Banting, and by Banting’s student
assistant during the insulin research, Charles Best. Banting’s denigration of Macleod
was based on their almost total personality conflict; Best’s was based on a hunger
for personal recognition. New research indicates how scarred both men were in
their obsessions. The rehabilitation of Macleod’s reputation, begun in 1982 with my
book, The Discovery of Insulin, has continued in both scholarly and popular circles. By
2012, the ninetieth anniversary of the discovery of insulin, it had become complete
both at the University of Toronto and in Canada.