Diabetes has been known to occur in humans as far back as the 5th-century b.c.e. and possibly even as far back as ancient Egyptian papyrus dating from 1550b.c.e. Affecting people the world over, it was not until 1794 that two variations of the disease now known as diabetes were distinguished and first classified. Finally, nearly a hundred years later in 1889 two scientists, Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski are credited with the formal discovery and the role of the pancreas.
Despite diabetes affecting people for more than 2000 years, spanning across generations throughout the world, it was not until January 11th, 1922 that a 14-year-old Canadian boy was treated with Insulin for the first time, changing the face of diabetes forever. The next year, in 1923, commercial production of insulin began and two of the scientists most closely connected with its discovery were awarded the Nobel Prize.
Engagement in the fight against diabetes grew in the following two decades, stirring the creation of the American Diabetes Association in 1940. As progress continued over the years with better glucose testing, countless studies, and even two more Nobel Prize awards the new American Diabetes Association also expanded a network of affiliate programs to include more local organizations and worked with the federal government to have President Truman sign the Omnibus Medical Research Act forming a national institute for studying diseases.
Never satisfied, and constantly pushing for greater public awareness, proper funding, and further understanding, the American Diabetes Association gave out research grants, started children’s camps, standardized an Insulin injection needle, and supported the first post-graduate course, all as a private professional organization. Then in 1970 they opened up as a voluntary health organization to allow for lay and professional membership bringing in a new perspective on the daily impact of those living their lives with Diabetes.
To further scientific advancements, improve tests, treatments, and therapy’s the journey continued with the CDC creating a diabetes division in 1977. With awareness and innovation growing exponentially, in 1979 President Jimmy Carter formed the first National Diabetic Week in October. Following the trend, President Ronald Regan expanded on the concept by designating the first month-long awareness campaign in 1982, which continues in November each year. Nearly 40 years later and the persistent innovations by dedicated research professionals have made living with diabetes a maintenance concern and less of a foregone conclusion of painful living and early death.
Still, these amazing advancements haven’t come at no cost, quite literally. The inflammatory cost of modern insulin has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels and has caused the greatest contemporary hindrance to necessary care. In response, signifying the modern importance of diabetes in society the ADA launched the “Make Insulin Affordable” campaign to challenge transparency in the insulin supply chain and ensure no one is left unable to receive care. Gathering more than 475,000 signatures it is the American Diabetes Association’s most successful grassroots campaign to date!