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.
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.
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.