Joslin Moments: The First 50-Year Medal

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Elliott Proctor Joslin (1869-1962), founder of the Joslin Clinic, possessed an unmatched zeal to improve the life of people with diabetes. He, quite literally, “wrote the book” on diabetes. Dr. Joslin produced ten editions of his medical textbook followed by a patient manual, The Diabetic Manual For the Mutual Use of Doctor And Patient. Throughout his career, Joslin espoused the paramount need for patients to understand and meticulously manage their disease.

Under the direction of one of Dr. Joslin’s closest associates, Dr. Alexander Marble, the Joslin Clinic was able to award the first 50-Year Medal on May 12, 1970. Fewer than 10 survivors were diagnosed with diabetes prior to the advent of insulin—this explains why the medal was established in 1970. Dr. Marble was taken by, as he said, “the surprising and gratifying number of patients who have qualified.” This was the last medal created by Amelia Peabody (who previously designed The Life Expectancy Medal [1931] and The Quarter Century Victory Medal [1948].)  The 50-Year Medal depicts a marathon runner carrying a torch in one hand with the phrase, “Triumph for Man and Medicine.”

Dr. Marble, the Joslin Clinic President at the time, spoke enthusiastically about the meaning of this new medal. Notably, this award signifies that those with diabetes were living full lives, and in Marble’s words, “testifies vividly to the miracle of insulin.” Although the disease had not been conquered, the patient was now carrying the torch, as told by the medal. To date there are close to 6,000 recipients of Joslin’s 50-Year Medal.

To learn more about Joslin’s Medalist Program, including how to access an application for the medal, read medalists’ stories, and to stay up to date on diabetes research please visit the medalist webpage:

2 Responses to Joslin Moments: The First 50-Year Medal

  1. Susan dupler says:

    I have a friend in maine how is 64 and has had type 1 since age 4. He is amazing person. A farmer his whole life and still out in the fields with a below the knee amputation.

  2. Theresa Carew Najarian says:

    This looks like an amazing medal and represents so much to the person living with Type 1 Diabetes.
    I was diagnosed in 1972 by Dr. Thomas Flood and I got to meet so many wonderful doctors throughout my journey.
    I have lived with Diabetes for 45 years and have been challenged by so many obstacles along the way, Tuberculosis, pneumonia, a Vitrectomy in left eye and heart procedures but none of these obstacles have never stopped me but have only made me fight harder.

    Thank you for creating such a meaningful medal which means so much to the person living with Type One Diabetes.

    Joslin Clinic is a wonderful hospital and I am so grateful that my parents brought me here.


    Theresa Carew Najarian

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