John James Rickard Macleod

9th APS President (1921-1922)
John James Rickard Macleod

At the APS Meeting in New Haven in 1921, the first year of his presidency, Macleod introduced a paper by F. G. Banting and C. H. Best; it was their initial announcement of their celebrated research on insulin carried out in Macleod's laboratory. The following year, at a joint session of the Federation in Toronto, Banting and Best, again introduced by Macleod, reported the isolation and purification of insulin. In 1923, for the discovery of insulin, Macleod and Banting were awarded the Nobel Prize, which they divided with their co-workers, Best and J. B. Collip.

Macleod was born in Scotland and received his medical training at the University of Aberdeen. He was a demonstrator of physiology and a lecturer in biochemistry at the London Hospital School before being offered the chair of physiology at Western Reserve Medical School in 1903. He was immediately elected a member of APS. In 1918 he became professor of physiology at the University of Toronto. In 1928 he returned to his alma mater, the University of Aberdeen, as Regius Professor of Physiology. Macleod's publications dealt with a wide range of physiological and biochemical topics, including carbamates, purine metabolism, the breakdown of liver glycogen, intracranial circulation, ventilation, and surgical shock, as well as diabetes, on which he published a book as early as 1913. Macleod's textbook, Physiology and Biochemistry in Modern Medicine (1918), which went through seven editions during his lifetime, was unique in its emphasis on the important role of chemistry in physiology.

Macleod was first elected to APS Council in 1915. During his presidency, the first APS Porter Fellow, John Hepburn, spent his fellowship year (1921) with Macleod in Toronto working with the insulin group. Macleod was named to the initial Board of Editors of Physiological Reviews established in 1920. When he left North America in 1928 he was asked to remain on the board, because APS Council decided it would be valuable to have a British representative. This was the origin of the present European Editorial Committee.

Selected Publications

1. Anonymous. John James Rickard Macleod, 1876-1935. Physiologist 9: 1, 1966.

2. Howell, W. H., and C. W. Greene. History of the American Physiological Society Semicentennial, 1887-1937. Baltimore, MD: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1938, p. 113-115.

3. Stevenson, L. G. John James Rickard Macleod. In: Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New York: Scribner, 1973, vol. 8, p. 614-615.