The discovery of insulin in Canada and its introduction into clinical practice remains perhaps the most remarkable advance in the history of medicine. The tradition continues with “INGAP”, the Edmonton Protocol, the Alberta Diabetes Centre and. numerous local initiatives. Canadian Cosmopolitans have donated over one million dollars to the cause: we are The Club That Fights Diabetes.

The Discovery of Insulin

It has been over 90 years since the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting and his colleagues at the University of Toronto. Some interesting historical parallels have emerged with the success at the U of A. Until recently, human islet cells were being prepared in the very same basement laboratories at the University of Alberta where the biochemist James Bertram Collip worked, before he moved to Toronto in 1921 and joined Banting’s team.  Also of interest - Banting described a plan to transplant pancreatic tissue in one of his notebooks in 1921. 


INGAP (Islet Neogenesis Associated Protein) was discovered, with others by Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg at McGill University in Montreal. Dr Rosenberg is a leading researcher in islet cell biology and neogenesis. Researchers are encouraged by the fact that INGAP induces the growth of fully functioning pancreatic islet cells in animals, i.e., they were able to produce insulin and control blood sugar levels naturally, effectively curing the symptoms of diabetes. Human trails are on going and we hope this will be a great breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes. The Cosmopolitan Foundation Canada, Inc. contributed $125,000 to Dr. Rosenberg’s program [2001 – 2006].

Islet Transplant and the Edmonton Protocol

Briefly, islet transplant is where islets are harvested from donors, purified, and injected into severe type1 diabetics [needing as many as 15 insulin shots per/day]. Like magic, the next day, these patients become insulin free. A University of Alberta team headed by Ray Rajotte has spent 35 years on islet transplants. The first human trails were organized in 1989. The Cosmopolitan Foundation Canada, Inc. donated $10,000 in 1987, which, although not a huge amount, helped. The program had mixed success over the next 10 years. There were problems with surgical procedures and rejection of the transplanted tissue. New team members James Shapiro and Jonathan Lakey were added in the late 1990s. They devised a new series of potent antirejection drugs [the Edmonton Protocol] and refined surgical procedures. Success rates soared and the program received wide recognition. For example President Bill Clinton mentioned the program and dedicated 5 million dollars to establish transplant centres in the US. The program is still on going and requires support. There are still obstacles to overcome, but it remains an exciting program. The Cosmopolitan Foundation Canada, Inc. dedicated $50,000 in 2002 to investigate the use pig stem cells as a source of islets and over the last 5 years contributed 25,000/year to fund a student attached to the program. Cosmo support to this program amounts to $250,000.

Alberta Diabetes Institute - University of Alberta

The center was opened in 2007. It is planned to be the most advanced center for diabetes research in the world. The new facility will continue to result in groundbreaking successes such as the Edmonton Protocol. The plant will house 35 principle investigators from several faculties including: Agriculture, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Home Economics, Physical Education and the School of Public Health. In all there will be a staff of 200. It is the largest research center in Canada to focus solely on diabetes “The Alberta Diabetes Institute is poised to make significant breakthroughs in diabetes research by bringing some of the best and brightest minds in the field together under one roof” says Tom Marrie, Dean of the Facility of Medicine and Dentistry. “We have a long history of excellence in diabetes research. In 1921, Professor James Collip helped Banting and Best discover insulin. Today, under the guidance of Dr. Ron Gill and Dr. Ray Rajotte, scientists from many disciplines will continue to work together to find a cure.”  To date, we have contributed $325,000 to the Institute.

Other Canadian Cosmo Contributions

Since 1985, Cosmopolitan Foundation Canada, Inc. has donated $300,000 to a wide variety of projects. As we are located in Western Canada, these donations have centered at Universities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. There are also many initiatives carried out at the local level. A Regina Club offers scholarships to high school students whose family has a history of diabetes; a St. Albert Club bought all the furniture for a diabetes-teaching classroom and so on and on and on ----- the saga continues.

For additional information regarding the Foundation and its activities, contact the president. You can find his contact information under Cosmopolitan Foundation of Canada>CFC Board.