As hospitals became centres for health care, they also became centres for health research. The hospital provides researchers with: research space (labs), research subjects (patients for clinical trials), and, of course, research problems—for often research is driven by a real problem encountered by doctors and patients.

The Montreal Neurological Institute, founded by Dr. Wilder Penfield in 1933, was an early example of combining treatment of patients and research into their conditions in the same institution.

As a young doctor, Frederick Banting (1891-1941) saw the effects of diabetes in children—like wasting away even when eating plenty of food. By the 1920s, doctors knew that something produced in the pancreas prevented diabetes, but no one had any success in isolating this mysterious substance. Then Dr. Banting and his assistant, Charles Best (1899-1978), started studying the pancreases of dogs at the University of Toronto. In 1922 they isolated a substance (“insulin”) and gave it to a boy who was dying from diabetes. The boy immediately improved. Dr. James Collip (1892-1965) then went on to develop methods to mass produce insulin, Read More
As hospitals became centres for health care, they also became centres for health research. The hospital provides researchers with: research space (labs), research subjects (patients for clinical trials), and, of course, research problems—for often research is driven by a real problem encountered by doctors and patients.

The Montreal Neurological Institute, founded by Dr. Wilder Penfield in 1933, was an early example of combining treatment of patients and research into their conditions in the same institution.

As a young doctor, Frederick Banting (1891-1941) saw the effects of diabetes in children—like wasting away even when eating plenty of food. By the 1920s, doctors knew that something produced in the pancreas prevented diabetes, but no one had any success in isolating this mysterious substance. Then Dr. Banting and his assistant, Charles Best (1899-1978), started studying the pancreases of dogs at the University of Toronto. In 1922 they isolated a substance (“insulin”) and gave it to a boy who was dying from diabetes. The boy immediately improved. Dr. James Collip (1892-1965) then went on to develop methods to mass produce insulin, making it available to millions of diabetics.

Since 1990, researchers at World Heart Corporation (based in Ottawa) have been perfecting and testing their HeartSaver VAD (ventricular assist device). A VAD is a device implanted in a patient's chest to assist the pumping of a damaged heart, until a transplant operation can be arranged. It contains a pump, electronics to regulate the pumping rate, and a battery (also implanted) that is charged from outside the body without any wire or contact through the skin. One early test version has been continuously pumping (in a fish tank) for 10 years! This VAD may be approved for clinical trials in 2002 or 2003.

Around 1780 Luigi Galvani observed that static electricity applied to the muscle of a freshly dissected frog caused its legs to twitch. One hundred and sixty years later, in the 1940s, it became possible to “see” the electrical signal generated by muscle reaction—using a device called an electromyograph (EMG).

A Canadian, Dr. John Basmajian, combined six small round display screens (like little TVs) in one apparatus. Each displayed the signal from a different electrode. With this, he was able to see the relationship between stimuli and reactions at different points on the body. His work in the 1950s and 60s helped launch a whole new discipline: sports medicine.

Imagine being fully awake while your skull is being sawed into. Now imagine a doctor poking at your brain, causing you to feel an itchy nose, a tingling in your arm, the smell of toast. This is what the patients of Dr. Wilder Penfield experienced.

Driven by a desire to understand the source of epilepsy in his sister, Dr. Wilder Penfield founded the Montreal Neurological Institute. He and his team of specialists studied the brain and its signals. His work was important in mapping the brain—that is, discovering which areas of the brain are responsible for which functions. Dr. Penfield made brain surgery a Canadian specialty.

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Insuline

Insuline

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


3D Object - See the VAD in 3-D

Click and drag on the image to rotate the VAD.

HeartSaver VADTM Ventricular Assist Device
2001
© HeartSaver VADTM


Electromyograph

Electromyograph

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection
1953
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


3D Object - Penfield's device in 3-D

Click and drag on the image to rotate the Penfield Device.

A modified EEG device used by Penfield to detect electrical impulses in the brain during surgery.

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection
c. 1960
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


It is unpleasant for some of us to think about the role that non-human animals play in medical research. It is a very controversial issue. No matter how we feel about it, we have to at least acknowledge that it has played a role in some of our medical breakthroughs.

Public awareness and pressure has led to the current strict guidelines for using animals in medical experiments.

This was the recipe: wheat meal, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ, vitamins B, E, and A, bone meal, brewer's yeast, alfalfa, iron, calcium and copper. Yum!

This recipe, for the original Pablum, was the result of research at the Hospital of Sick Children, and was published in 1930. Pablum was one of the first vitamin-enriched pre-cooked and dried baby cereals anywhere.

In 1931, the recipe was marketed and sold by Mead Johnson. The profits raised funded the Pediatric Research Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children for 25 years until the patent expired.

In the 1940s, surgeons were looking for ways to carry out heart surgery without the heart beating. Before the heart-lung machine came along to solve this problem, a Canadian doctor, Wilfred Bigelow (b. 1 Read More
It is unpleasant for some of us to think about the role that non-human animals play in medical research. It is a very controversial issue. No matter how we feel about it, we have to at least acknowledge that it has played a role in some of our medical breakthroughs.

Public awareness and pressure has led to the current strict guidelines for using animals in medical experiments.

This was the recipe: wheat meal, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ, vitamins B, E, and A, bone meal, brewer's yeast, alfalfa, iron, calcium and copper. Yum!

This recipe, for the original Pablum, was the result of research at the Hospital of Sick Children, and was published in 1930. Pablum was one of the first vitamin-enriched pre-cooked and dried baby cereals anywhere.

In 1931, the recipe was marketed and sold by Mead Johnson. The profits raised funded the Pediatric Research Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children for 25 years until the patent expired.

In the 1940s, surgeons were looking for ways to carry out heart surgery without the heart beating. Before the heart-lung machine came along to solve this problem, a Canadian doctor, Wilfred Bigelow (b. 1913), experimented with cooling the body, which slowed the heartbeat considerably. But he needed a way to start the heart up again, in case it stopped altogether. Dr. Jack Hopps (1920-1999) of the National Research Council developed a device that could stimulate a stopped heart by providing it with an electric shock. It was also capable of controlling heart action in normally beating hearts. This was a very early version of a pacemaker. Eventually pacemakers evolved out of the surgical setting, became much smaller, and became useful for patients who need heart stimulation all the time.

As a young biochemist Dr. Harold Copp (1915-1998) was recruited to work on the secret Manhattan Project, the U.S. project to develop the atomic bomb during the Second World War. What was a biochemist doing working on a physicist's project? He studied how radioactive isotopes—the particles that would be released when an atomic bomb exploded—would affect the bones of people. This led to studies of blood flow in the bones and how calcium levels are regulated in the blood. In 1962, at the University of British Columbia, he discovered calcitonin, a hormone released by the thyroid gland, which regulates the level of calcuim in the blood. Calcitonin is useful for treating osteoporosis.

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Theo Drake and a Pablum Box

Dr. Theo Drake a co-inventor of Pablum, in his lab at the Nutritional Research Laboratories at The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto) in the 1930s.

They say it tasted like boiled kleenex!

Canada Science and Technology Museum, University Health Network Artifact Collection

© CSTM & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Artificial Pacemaker

Artificial Pacemaker

Canada Science and Technology Museum, University Health Network Artifact Collection
1951
© CSTM & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Harold Copp

Dr. Harold Copp

Photo by Harry Palmer
Courtesy of National Archives of Canada
1984
© National Archives of Canada


Cat Decerebrator

Cat Decerebrator

Canada Science and Technology Museum, University Health Network Artifact Collection

© CSTM & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Video - Hear more about Dr. Copp's work

Hear more about Dr. Copp's work

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

© Permission of The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, London, Ontario. All rights reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Observe evolution of hospitals, tools and treatments throughout the twentieth century;
  • Identify the evolution of medical technology and discuss its contribution to treatment and medical care;
  • Illustrate concepts in biology, identify specific diseases and treatments offered (past and present).

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