"The Discovery of Insulin" now also in German

The much-mentioned work by the American historian Michael Bliss on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin two years ago has now also been published in German. Translated by Dr. Robert Augustin, scientist and diabetes expert, it presents Bliss' meticulously researched history of the discovery of the vital hormone insulin. It is not only about scientific facts, but also about the suffering and relief of patients, as well as the quest for fame and glory and the envy and jealousy among the researchers that go with it.

© LIT-Verlag

It reads "as gripping and exciting as a detective novel," according to the book description. The role of Frederick Banting, Nobel Prize winner and commonly referred to as the discoverer of insulin, is put into perspective in this work.

"Up to then, the story shone too brightly that a brilliant young war hero discovered the life-saving insulin in a few months and thus was the first Canadian with a Nobel Prize to become a national hero. The truth was that in the summer of 1921, Banting sacrificed countless dogs in confusedly documented experiments, following an idea he had had at night on Oct. 30, 1920: 'ligate the excretory duct of the pancreas and extract something from it to treat diabetes.' This method of making insulin was far too complicated and unnecessary.

A close study of the previous literature would have revealed that these experiments were not necessary at all," writes Dr. Viktor Jörgens, former director of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), in his foreword to the German edition.

Insulin that could actually be used had been isolated from pancreases for the first time by a group of researchers led by James Collip. John MacLeod had brought the young researcher into his department in Toronto after the experiments of Frederick Banting and Charles Best had not led to the anticipated success.

"The Discovery of Insulin" is written for interested laypersons, for people with diabetes and their relatives, for medical historians, physicians, and "last but not least, for all those who are enthusiastic about medical progress and the interplay of chance, ingenuity, and the urge to explore in the right place at the right time" (blurb).


Die Entdeckung des Insulins: Übersetzung aus dem Amerikanischen von Robert Augustin. LIT Verlag, Taschenbuch – 31. Juli 2023. ISBN-10 364325086X