The First Dose of Insulin

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August 7 is the anniversary of the first purified insulin injection in the United State.

Across from the Joslin Diabetes Center’s 170 Pilgrim Road entrance is the site of what was once Broadbeck Cottage, opened under the direction of Dr. Elliott P. Joslin as the world’s first organized teaching effort for diabetic patients. It was here that Dr. Howard Root and Dr. Elliot P. Joslin administered the first injection. This important milestone is recognized by a commemorative plaque on the façade of the building where the cottage once stood.

This plaque marks the site of the first administration of commercial insulin in the United States.

The recipient was Elizabeth Mudge — a 37-year-old nurse who at 70 pounds had lost more than half her weight and was near death. Dr. Joslin recalled that before her treatment she was “just about the weight of her bones and a human soul.”

She was restored to health less than a month after receiving treatment with insulin, and worked tirelessly to promote good health among patients with diabetes for the remaining 25 years of her life.

Elizabeth Mudge (1885-1947)
Joslin Clinic Case# 1542.    In 1922 Ms. Mudge became the first patient to be treated with insulin at the Joslin Clinic

Miss Mudge later recalled:

“This treatment had to be given with the utmost secrecy, because the supply of insulin was very limited. Naturally, there were hundreds of people like me who would have besieged Dr. Joslin, if they knew that insulin was available. Only my mother knew the purpose for which I was going to the hospital. Insulin certainly has made a new life for me and for thousands of other people.”

Fast forward 95 years — Joslin Diabetes Center has partnered with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and colleagues at several other Boston institutions to form the Boston Autologous Islet Replacement Therapy (BAIRT) program, collaborating on stem cell research with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for diabetes.

Joslin has also established a Center for Cell-Based Therapy for Diabetes (CCTD), the goal of which is to lead the development and translation of cell-based interventions to treat and cure diabetes and its complications.

3 Responses to The First Dose of Insulin

  1. Dolores Farrow says:

    I found this very interesting although I am Canadian. My father and 3 of his brothers and one sister all had diabetes. Out of seven children only my Dad and one brother married. His brother had no children and my Dad had two. None of my brother’s three children or my two have had diabetes.

  2. Where was this place located. It doesn’t say

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