Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

“He was one of the great minds of Canadian medicine.”

© Irma Coucill and the CMHF
1994 Inductee

Dr. James Collip

Born: 
November 20, 1892, Belleville, Ontario
Died: 
June 19, 1965
Education: 
MD, PhD - Trinity College, The University of Toronto
James Bertram Collip was one of the great minds of Canadian medicine. Enrolled at Trinity College in Toronto, Ontario at the young age of 15, Collip had completed a doctorate degree in biochemistry by the age of 24. He accepted a position as lecturer at the University of Alberta where he had an outstanding career in biochemical research. Collip was on leave, completing a Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship, when he was invited by J.J.R. Mcleod at The University of Toronto to work with Banting and Best on the development of insulin.

Collip’s skills in biochemistry were invaluable to Banting and Best’s research; Collip was able to refine and purify insulin to a form which permitted clinical use. This allowed insulin to be mass-produced, making it quickly available to the general public, saving millions of lives.

When J.J.R. Mcleod won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1923, Mcleod shared his award with Collip.

Following his early success, Collip returned to The University of Alberta where he completed his MD in 1926 and accepted a position as Head of the Biochemistry Department. In 1928, he was recruited by McGill University to serve as Chair of McGill’s Department of Biochemistry. He served in this position until 1941, when he established and became Chair of McGill University’s new Institute of Endocrinology. During his tenure at McGill University, his research on pituitary hormones was successful in isolating ACTH, a stress hormone which can be a factor in Addison’s Disease. He was also one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone.

In 1947, Collip was invited to become Dean of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. During his fourteen year tenure, Collip capped his brilliant career by shaping the university’s medical school into an internationally renowned centre of medical education and research.