James Bertram Collip, biochemist, educator, co-discoverer of insulin (born 20 November 1892 in Belleville, ON; died 19 June 1965 in London, ON). Collip is perhaps best recognized for his work into endocrinological research. He was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone. He also contributed to the discovery of insulin in 1922.
James Bertram 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 (see Medical Research). In autumn 1921 he was working with John James Rickard Macleod in Toronto during a sabbatical from the University of Alberta, when Macleod asked him to join the team investigating the internal secretion of the pancreas (see Sir Frederick Banting). 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 Charles Herbert 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. (See also Nobel Prizes and Canada.)
Collip plunged into endocrinological research and was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone. In 1928 he succeeded Archibald Byron Macallum as professor of biochemistry at McGill University, 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 the University of Western Ontario from 1947 to 1961 (see Western University). A restless, driven man, Collip had made important contributions to the insulin team and afterwards to medical research. He did not court honours and seldom discussed the discovery of insulin. In 2021, Collip was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.