Tag Archives: Thea Cooper

BREAKTHROUGH Should Be On Your “Next-to-Read” List

“If you love to read history books, place this one as your ‘next to read.’ ” –Amy, Three Thirty Three

A review of Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle was posted today on the blog Three Thirty Three.  Amy, the blog’s founder, discovered the book while researching Type 1 diabetes; her 10-year-old daughter Ellie was diagnosed with T1 in September of this year.

Amy sites some of her favorite moments from BREAKTHROUGH and writes how deeply she was affected by these passages.

Here is an example:

PROLOGUE: page 1

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Before Insulin, Elixirs Promised Over-the-Counter Diabetes Cure

Warner's Safe Diabetes Cure

As scientists in the early 1900s began to learn more about diabetes, their ability to diagnose the disease improved. But with more cases diagnosed, a real treatment remained elusive. Before the breakthrough discovery of insulin, many people, desperate to believe they could be cured, turned to elixirs to treat their diabetes.

Here’s an excerpt from BREAKTHROUGH: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg:

By 1920, the death rate from diabetes would be double what it was twenty years before, and the number of diagnoses was rising. It appeared that medical research was losing ground.

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Breakthrough: Diabetes History and the Experience of a Child

Louise Mirrer, president of the New-York Historical Society, wrote a wonderful blog on the Huffington Post on November 5. She notes that the “experience of children can teach us volumes about our history.” One such child is Elizabeth Hughes, who, after being diagnosed with diabetes, became one of the first recipients of the newly-discovered insulin. Her story, chronicled in BREAKTHROUGH, is inspiring and eye-opening. 

Louise Mirrer writes: 

 The story of young Elizabeth Evans Hughes led us to think differently, as an institution organized around history, about the fight for life waged by medical patients almost a century ago and about the roles of science…” 

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BREAKTHROUGH: The Miracle of Insulin

Thomas Sullivan, in Policy and Medicine, praises the groundbreaking collaboration between researchers, physicians, and industry that made the discovery of insulin possible and changed diabetes treatment in his article discussing BREAKTHROUGH, by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg.

“While significant breakthroughs in medicine and innovation in science occur each day, ‘only once or twice in a generation does a miracle drug’ come about that changes the way humans live and physicians practice medicine.”

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BREAKTHROUGH in The New York Times!

“With insulin, dying children laughed and played again, as parents wept and doctors spoke of biblical resurrections.”
The New York Times

BREAKTHROUGH is on the front page of the October 5, 2010 Science section  in The
 New York Times!

The article explores the current exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, chronicling the discovery of insulin. The exhibition, which opens today, is based upon BREAKTHROUGH: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, the dramatic and rivetting story of the discovery of insulin.

The full article, as it appears in the NYT, is below:

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Washington Times: BREAKTHROUGH Told With “Energy” and “Vividness”

“Although this is the authors’ first book, they are adept at telling their complicated, multifaceted story with energy and vividness. Their account of diabetics’ treatment before the production of insulin is harrowing”

See the full Washington Times review of BREAKTHROUGH below:

The word miracle is one of the most overused in our language and so often engenders a skeptical reaction. But if ever there was a medical miracle, the discovery of insulin and its rendering into a form deliverable to human beings is up there. For not only did this conquer the hitherto universally fatal Type 1 form of diabetes, in which the pancreas no longer produces insulin, but it provided the paradigm for an incurable disease that could be managed so successfully that many of those suffering from it would live on to die eventually of something else.

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Insulin in its Infancy: Dogs and Diabetes

This Day In History: On August 31, 1921, in the early days of his research, one of Frederick Banting’s beloved test subjects died. Referred to in his notes as “Dog 92,” the collie provided Banting’s first real success during his research. The dog lived for twenty days without a pancreas, surviving with an extract Banti…ng and Best called “isletin.”
When Dog 92 died, Banting cried. He always loved and appreciated the sacrifice the dogs were making so that humans might live. “I shall never forget that dog as long as I shall live,” Banting wrote of Dog 92 in 1940, “…when that dog died I wanted to be alone for the tears would fall despite anything I could do.”

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Happy Birthday Elizabeth Hughes

Elizabeth Hughes, ca. 1923 courtesy of Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Happy Birthday to Elizabeth Hughes! Elizabeth was born on August 19, 1907. Just a few days shy of her 15th birthday, she became one of the first recipients of insulin. Her life was transformed.

Elizabeth arrived in Toronto from America a frail child, fighting to stay alive just one more day, armed with a hopeful spirit that refused to diminish despite her dire condition.

It was the discovery of insulin that allowed her to live a long life. She died in 1981 at the age of 73, having had children and grandchildren of her own. Over the course of 58 years, Elizabeth received some 42,000 insulin injections. Insulin made those 58 years possible.

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Review: “Breakthrough Had Me Hooked”

A great review of BREAKTHROUGH was posted by Lit Chick on the blog Lit Chit Chat. Here are some higlights:

“Breakthrough had me hooked from page five and kept me holding my breath right up to the last word.”

“Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg have mastered the art of writing a historical non-fiction account…”

“The reader is given a devastating and un-sugar coated look into the seriousness of the illness at the time…”

You can read the entire review below or at Lit Chit Chat.

Book: Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, The Discovery of Insulin, and The Making of A Medical Miracle.

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Reviewer Alan Caruba  included Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg on his monthly list of best new non-fiction! Alan Caruba is an author and a charter member of the National Book Critics Circle who has been reviewing for more than five decades. Here’s what he wrote:


“I heartily recommend this book.”

“…mark your calendar…”

“The whole story is fraught with drama…”


Read the full post below:

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