Lives of the fellows

James Bertram Collip

b.20 November 1892 d.19 June 1965
CBE(1943) BA Toronto(1912) MA Toronto(1913) PhD Toronto(1916) DSc Alberta(1924) MD Alberta(1926) Hon DSc Alberta(1924) Hon LLD Manitoba(1935) Hon DSc Harvard(1936) Hon LLD Queen’s(1941) Hon LLD Alberta(1946) Hon DSc Oxon(1946) Hon LLD Laval(1947) Hon DSc Toronto(1952) Hon DSc McGill(1955) FRSC(1925) FRCP(C)(1931) FRS(1933) FACP(1933) *FRCP(1938)

James Collip, one of Canada’s most distinguished medical scientists, was born and received his early education at Belleville. His father was James Dennis Collip and his mother formerly May F. Vance. While an undergraduate at Toronto University he was awarded a research fellowship in biochemistry, and immediately after graduation was appointed lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In 1921 he joined Banting and Best in the department of J. R. Macleod at the University of Toronto in the search for insulin that resulted in the production in 1922 of an aqueous solution of sufficient purity to commence clinical trials on diabetics. The patent granted them was handed to the Board of Governors of the University to be used for medical research.

Collip then went back to Alberta as professor of biochemistry and in 1926 graduated M.D., having in the interval succeeded in isolating the parathyroid hormone. Two years later he was elected to the chair at McGill University, where he led a team of research workers in endocrinology.

On the outbreak of the Second World War he was commissioned as a colonel in the R.C.A.M.C., and in 1941 became professor of endocrinology and chairman of the Associated Committee on Medical Research of the National Research Council of Canada.

For ten years from 1946 he was director of its division of medical research, combining this work with that of dean of the faculty of medicine and that of head of the department of medical research at the University of Western Ontario. These last two posts he resigned in 1961. The amount of work he got through was phenomenal. The result was an entirely new conception of glandular activity and the production of extracts that proved among the greatest contributions to modern medicine.

Deserved honours were showered on him; they included nine honorary degrees, the Flavelle medal of the Royal Society of Canada, the Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr gold medal of the Canadian Medical Association, and the Cameron prize of the University of Edinburgh.

In 1915 he married Ray Vivian Ralph; they had two daughters and one son.

Richard R Trail

* Elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[Canad. med. Ass. J., 1965, 93, 331 (p), 425-6, 774-5, 1356-64 (p).]

(Volume V, page 81)

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