Joslin Moments: Dedication of the Baker Clinic

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An architect’s rendering of the Baker Clinic before construction commenced in the early 1930s

On March 24, 1934, Dr. Joslin gave the dedication speech in honor of the new Baker Clinic—later known as the Baker Clinic Research Laboratory. The dedication of the Baker Clinic saw Joslin’s initial expansion from diabetes care and education to diabetes research—complete with several research laboratories.

In the decade that followed the advent of insulin, Dr. Joslin continued to pioneer the field of diabetes care and education. In 1925, while Dr. Joslin was in New York visiting a colleague, banker and philanthropist George Fisher Baker reached out to Dr. Joslin to discuss a generous to help establish a research laboratory, in Boston, solely for the purpose of studying diabetes.

In the previous year, 1924, Mr. Baker donated $5 million to the Harvard Business School and was already a prominent figure in Boston philanthropy. Planning for what was to become the Baker Clinic at the New England Deaconess Hospital took several years, with construction taking place in the early 1930s.

In 1934, 12 years after commercial insulin became available, Dr. Joslin reported that mortality from diabetic coma had decreased from 60% to 5% thanks to treatment with insulin. Dr. Joslin noted however, that a rise in gangrene in diabetic patients should and could be prevented with better research and educational awareness.

In his speech at the dedication of the Baker Clinic, Dr. Joslin, commented:

Dr. Joslin teaches an educational course on diabetes at the Baker Clinic, circa 1940s

“The thing that impresses me here is the combination of one hospital with three or four specialties working side by side in close cooperation with the hospital. What an ideal thing it is to have the two together, under one roof, where there is far more opportunity of catching these fatal diseases in their earlier stages.”

The Baker Clinic was devoted to diabetes research, and in many ways was the precursor to the modern Joslin Diabetes Center. Dr. Joslin purchased 3 plots of land (two plots contained boarding houses—160 & 170 Pilgrim Road) in the early 1930s across from the New England Deaconess Hospital with a vision of expanding his clinic at 81 Bay State Road.

Two decades later that vision came true with the Joslin Clinic moving operations to the current location of 1 Joslin Place (15 Joslin Road as it was known then) in December 1956.

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