Our History

1921 Dr. Frederick G. Banting, Dr. Charles H. Best, Dr. James B. Collip (who is on sabbatical from the University of Alberta), and Dr. John R. MacLeod collaborate at the University of Toronto on the discovery and purification of insulin.
1922 Drs. Banting and MacLeod are awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, which they respectively share with Dr. Best and Dr. Collip.
1936 Sir Harold Percival Himsworth postulates that diabetes falls into two categories based on insulin insensitivity.
1959 Identification of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
1966 First pancreatic transplant performed at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Ray V. Rajotte, a biomedical engineer, is cross-appointed to the Departments of Medicine and Surgery within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta with a specific research interest in the cryopreservation and transplantation of islets. He begins his research work with Dr. Molnar on hepatic glucose production.


The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) is established under Dr. Lionel McLeod by the Hon. Peter Lougheed with a $300 million dollar endowment. AHFMR has provided essential grant and salary support to diabetes researchers in Alberta for over 25 years.

1981 Dr. Ray Rajotte and Dr. Garth L. Warnock successfully isolate pure islets from dog pancreases, thus setting the stage for the clinical islet transplant program to follow.
1981 The Muttart Foundation donates $1.2 million to establish the Muttart Diabetes Research and Training Centre (MDRTC) at the University of Alberta, facilitating the recruitment of Dr. Edmond A. Ryan in 1983 and Dr. Alex Rabinovitch, a researcher in the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes, in 1988. Dr. Rabinovitch and Dr. Molnar are co-directors of the MDRTC.
1982 The Islet Transplantation Group is founded at the University of Alberta with Dr. Ray Rajotte named as the group's Director. Dr. Norman M. Kneteman, a liver transplant specialist, joins the group in 1985.
1983 Dr. Edmond A. Ryan conducts a pioneering study identifying insulin resistance of pregnancy and the role of pregnant hormones in gestational diabetes. Dr. Ryan plays a leading role in the University of Alberta's transplant research and becomes Medical Director of the Clinical Islet Transplant Program in 1998.
1989 First human islet transplant procedure in Canada is completed by the Islet Transplantation Group. The third patient receiving the procedure remains insulin-free for two and a half years after receiving a combination of fresh and cryopreserved islets.
1996 Dr. Gregory S. Korbutt, a former graduate student of Dr. Rajotte's, is recruited back to Edmonton to join the Department of Surgery and the Islet Transplantation Group with a strong research background in islet physiology and new sources of islet tissue.
1997 Dr. Jonathan R. T. Lakey returns to the University of Alberta where he had previously trained in large animal and clinical isolation and cryopreservation under Dr. Rajotte and Dr. Warnock and is appointed Director of the Clinical Islet Isolation Laboratory.
1998 Dr. A. M. James Shapiro comes to Edmonton from the United Kingdom to do a Transplant Fellowship and PhD in experimental surgery under Dr. Norman M. Kneteman and is persuaded to stay. With his background as a multi-organ transplant surgeon with experience in clinical immunosuppression and experimental islet transplant research, Dr. Shapiro is named Director of the Clinical Islet Transplant Program.
2000 New England Medical Journal advances publication of the "Edmonton Protocol" article written by eight members of the Islet Transplantation Group (Drs. James Shapiro, Jonathan Lakey, Edmond Ryan, Gregory Korbutt, Ellen Toth, Garth Warnock, Norman Kneteman, and Ray Rajotte) six weeks before schedule for the June issue. The Edmonton Protocol increases islet transplant success rates from 8% to 100% at the one year mark by using a non-corticosteroid treatment regime, and 11,000 islets/kg of patient weight.
2001 Clinical Trials of the Edmonton Protocol begin in ten clinical centres. By 2006, more than 550 patients will be treated using the Edmonton Protocol in approximately 50 clinical centres around the world.
2002 Alberta Foundation for Diabetes Research commits $10 million capital fundraising to HRIF-East campaign and renames itself the Alberta Diabetes Foundation. In response to their generous gift commitment, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Alberta offer to rename the Alberta Diabetes Institute and commit space in HRIF-East for the Foundation office.
2003 Dr. Ray Rajotte is named Interim Scientific Director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute, (and made permanent Scientific Director in 2004). Mr. Brian Manning of TkMC Consulting Ltd. is contracted to act as Interim Executive Director of the ADI prior to the hiring of a permanent Executive Director.
2007 Grand opening of the new Alberta Diabetes Institute. The Alberta Diabetes Institute officially opens its doors in the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and U of A President Indira Samarasekera tour the facility accompanied by several other delegates from the Alberta Government and the University of Alberta.
2009 The Edmonton Protocol celebrates its 10th anniversary at a luncheon to commemorate the occasion, President Indira Samarasekera said: "This discovery undoubtedly has had a dramatic influence on the reputation of the U of A around the world. With the incredible success of that first breakthrough came the global recognition that this university is a major centre for diabetes research," she said. "Suddenly we had the world's attention".
2011 Grand opening of the Clinical Research Unit - The Alberta Diabetes Institute is happy to announce the grand opening of its Clinical Research Unit(CRU) in the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation. The new, 8000 ft2 facility encompasses researchers from a variety of disciplines and incorporates studies focusing on diabetes, obesity, metabolism and nutrition. The multidisciplinary unit houses cutting edge equipment and serves as a place where basic and clinical scientists can work together to perform translational studies. The Clinical Research Unit facilitates the translation of basic research findings into meaningful health outcomes.