100 Years of Insulin

Celebrate The Insulin Centennial With Us

Commemorate a century of innovations and breakthroughs which changed people’s lives

At ATTD, together with Eli Lilly, we are celebrating 100 years of insulin.

Review the history of insulin below, as well as some of the activities around the insulin centennial.

Insulin Centennial Award

We recognize the value and importance of continued innovation in diabetes.

Therefore, we are excited to announce that we will be awarding an exemplary individual our Insulin Centennial Award at the ATTD 2022 Conference.

The award will be presented in the Closing Ceremony during ATTD 2022.

The ATTD-Lilly Insulin Centennial Award was awarded to Dr. Irl Hirsh in 2021!

Leonard Award

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, Eli Lilly and Company have launched the Leonard Award to recognize diverse champions dedicated to advancing diabetes management through innovative thinking and novel approaches.

The Leonard Award program recognizes innovation and positive achievements in the diabetes community.

Stay tuned for more details on the 2022 application process at Lilly.com/LeonardAward.

The Leonard Award is inspired by the life of Leonard Thompson, the first person with diabetes to be treated with insulin in 1922, and looks to celebrate ongoing achievements in the diabetes community.

The Award is open to eligible participants from the following categories:

  • Teen/young adult: 18- to 25-year-old living with diabetes or with a strong personal connection to someone impacted by diabetes
  • Advocate/advocacy professional: Active advocate for people with diabetes, either through personal channels or with an established organization
  • Endocrinologist/primary care physician: Health care professional specializing in endocrinology or who acts as a primary care physician to people with diabetes
  • Diabetes educator/nurse: Diabetes educator and/or nurse specializing in the care of people with diabetes
  • Researcher: Research professional dedicated to research in the field of diabetes care (therapeutics, technology or otherwise)

Five winners – one from each category – will be selected, and Lilly will give $20,000 in recognition of each winner ($100,000 total) to Life for a Child, a non-profit organization that provides access to care, education, and lifesaving medicines and supplies to children and young people with type 1 diabetes in less-resourced countries.

To be considered for the Leonard Award, nominees will be required to submit an original project, innovation, or effort – beyond drug or device therapy – that addresses either an important need or challenge in the management of diabetes or aims to support the community. Winners will be selected by an external judges’ panel comprised of esteemed leaders in diabetes care, and Dr. Glass will represent Lilly on that committee. The five Leonard Award winners will be announced in November in advance of World Diabetes Day.

Stay tuned via Lilly.com/LeonardAward for more details on when the nomination and application window for the 2022 Leonard Award is opening.

The Leonard Award is free to enter.
Official eligibility criteria and terms and conditions can be found on the website.

Why Leonard?

Leonard Thompson was the first person in the world to receive an insulin injection. He received his first dose in January of 1922 at the age of 14. He lived on insulin for the next 13 years until the age of 27, when he died from pneumonia. Lilly’s Leonard award commemorating the centennial anniversary of insulin is named for him.

Read more below about how far we’ve come over the past century

The History of Insulin

Take a 360-degree look at insulin use, as well as research and development, over the last 100 years.

Manufacturing Insulin

Over the last 100 years, significant advancements have been made in insulin manufacturing.

Take a look at the history and improvements in insulin manufacturing.

1922, 1923

Patient JL was a patient of Dr. William McKim Marriott at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Prior to the first photograph, he was diagnosed with diabetes for two years and was on a typical starvation diet of the period. He weighed 15 lbs on December 7, 1922.
The second photograph was taken Feb 26, 1923 when he weighed 30 pounds and was on a diet of 55 grams of carbohydrate, 85 grams of protein, and 100 grams of fat. Over the three months he was treated with insulin, his dosage was reduced from 75 units to 15 units, believed to be an indication of an increasing carbohydrate tolerance due to the insulin.
[Note: contrary to many internet postings who mistake this child for Leonard Thompson, this is not Leonard Thompson.]


A production operator and an insulin finishing line.










Seven men are by a truck owned by Capitol Transfer Co. that is holding a 34,000 pound insulin vacuum drier. The truck is parked in front of Eli Lilly Building Number 20 in Indianapolis
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Leonard Thompson was the first person in the world to receive an insulin injection. He received his first dose in January of 1922 at the age of 14. He lived on insulin for the next 13 years until the age of 27, when he died from pneumonia.

















Early automated manufacturing of insulin











This new initiative is supported by Eli Lilly

If you would like to get involved, please contact us

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