Skip to Main Content Go to Sitemap
A collage of two vintage photos of Elsie Needham and Dr. Gladys Boyd

Snapshots of History

Dr. Andrew Hunter

A 1929 portrait of Dr. Andrew Hunter, CBE, FRSC, FRSE (1876-1969), by Arthur Lismer, an artist who is most famous as a founding member of the Group of Seven. Dr. Andrew Hunter was the Chair in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto (U of T) from 1919–1929. In 1929 he returned to his birth country to become the Professor of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Glasgow and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1930–1935. In 1935, he returned to Toronto as Professor of Pathological Chemistry and was Dean of Graduate Studies, 1945–1947.  

After his formal retirement at age 70 (1946), he actively engaged in research for 23 years at the SickKids Research Institute. His definitive monograph on Creatine and Creatinine was published in 1928, before the discovery of phosphocreatine. There is also documentation in books published describing the history of medical research at U of T (Edward Shorter, Partnership for Excellence) and the discovery of insulin (Michael Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin) that Dr. Hunter had a critical role as one of the Connaught Laboratory directors mediating discussions between Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. James Collip regarding patents (and who would hold them) describing the insulin purification process.  

Even today, most scientists and clinicians performing research at SickKids are also professors at the University of Toronto, and many of these individuals move back and forth in different academic capacities between the U of T Faculties and SickKids teaching hospital. While Arthur Lismer was famous for doodling sketches and cartoons of people, this representation is likely an organized portrait “sitting” of Dr. Hunter as he was leaving U of T. It is stated in Marian A. Packham’s 100 Years of Biochemistry at UofT: An illustrated history that upon Professor Hunter’s death in 1969 at 93 years old, he bequeathed to the department a sketch of himself in his laboratory in 1929 by Arthur Lismer. Dr. Hunter’s signature on this version of the image suggests it is a copy of the original. The back of the picture suggests this version resided with Mrs. A. Brown, which adds some mystery behind the story of the scientist and the image. 

CGEn bridge

Canada’s national platform for genome sequencing and analysis (CGEn) is a federally funded national platform for genome sequencing and analysis.  Established in 2014, CGEn employs over 200 staff and is funded primarily by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) through its Major Science Initiatives Fund (MSI), leveraging investments from the provincial governments of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Genome Canada, and other stakeholders. CGEn operates as an integrated national platform with nodes in Toronto (The Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids), Montréal (McGill Genome Centre at McGill University), and Vancouver (Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre), providing genomic services, including genome sequencing and analysis, that enable research in agriculture, forestry, fishery, the environment and health sciences, and many other disciplines of interest to Canadians. 

The Human Genome Organization

The Human Genome Organization (HUGO) is an international scientific organization established in 1989 with the goal of promoting and coordinating efforts related to the study and understanding of the human genome. HUGO serves as a platform for collaboration among researchers, scientists and institutions worldwide, facilitating the exchange of knowledge, data and resources. Its formation coincided with the start of the Human Genome Project, a monumental international endeavour to map and sequence the entire human genome. Dr. Ronald Worton, who was Geneticist-in-Chief at SickKids at the time, is shown in the photograph. Other SickKids members included Drs. Diane W. Cox, Louis Siminovitch, and Lap-Chee Tsui. SickKids Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui was the President of HUGO in 2000–2002, the year that the first “drafts” of the human genome sequence was released concurrently by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and separately, Celera Genomics. 

Elsie Needham and Dr. Gladys Boyd

Picture of Elsie Needham

This picture depicts Elsie Needham, an eleven-year-old girl who experienced a remarkable recovery at SickKids. In October 1922, Elsie was admitted to the hospital in a diabetic coma after consuming a large quantity of grapes and olives. Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Gladys L. Boyd, head of the hospital's diabetes clinic, treated her with insulin. Against the odds, Elsie emerged from the coma, regained her strength, and was back in school by January 1923. Prior to the discovery of insulin, such cases often resulted in tragic outcomes. Elsie's story serves as a powerful testament to the life-saving impact of insulin and the advancements made in diabetes treatment.  

Picture of Dr. Gladys Boyd

Dr. Gladys L. Boyd made significant contributions to paediatric endocrinology at SickKids. As head of Endocrine Services, she played a crucial role in the administration and care of the first recipients of insulin. Dr. Boyd's collaboration with Dr. Frederick Banting led to a remarkable decrease in childhood mortality from diabetes at SickKids. Her dedication and expertise have left a lasting impact on the field of paediatric medicine, making her an influential figure in SickKids' history. 

Professor Sarkar

This is an image of Dr. Bibudhendra (Amu) Sarkar (middle) and Dr. Andrew Sass-Kortsak (right) consulting with patients on Wilson Disease in 1973. Dr. Sarkar was the first basic scientist hired by the SickKids Research Institute in 1964. Dr. Sarkar's research focused on the biochemistry of amino acids and their role in protein synthesis. His work at SickKids led to the discovery of several new genetic conditions and provided insight into the genetic basis of conditions such as phenylketonuria. He also played a key role in developing new techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of metabolic disorders and mentored many young scientists in biochemistry. He continued his work at SickKids until his retirement in 1995 when he then became an Emeritus Scientist.  

50th Anniversary at U of T Molecular Genetics

This picture captures a gathering of SickKids alumni during the 50th anniversary celebration of University of Toronto (U of T) Molecular Genetics department. Pictured from left to right: Drs. Manuel Buchwald (OC), Janet Rossant (OC), Roy Gravel, Stephen W. Scherer, Lap-Chee Tsui (OC) Lou Siminovitch (OC), Ronald Worton (OC), and Roderick McInnes (OC). This snapshot serves as a testament to the collective brilliance and enduring legacy of these SickKids alumni, whose ground-breaking research and dedication have propelled the field of molecular genetics to new heights. 

Black and white photo of Dr. Bibudhendra (Amu) Sarkar and Dr. Andrew Sass-Kortsak speaking with three children with Wilson disease

Explore other displays

Discover the history of SickKids Research Institute through a selection of display items that are available for in person viewing at the PGCRL.

View more displays

Back to Top