Lilly launches “The Leonard Award” as part of a global initiative commemorating the discovery of insulin 100 years ago

The centennial campaign is inspired by the first person with diabetes to be treated successfully with insulin

TORONTO, ON June 24, 2021 – Lilly Canada is pleased to announce the launch of a global initiative, “Leonard,” a campaign that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. Inspired by the life of Leonard Thompson, who was the first person with diabetes to be treated successfully with insulin, the initiative will roll out over the course of three years, to represent the timeline from insulin’s discovery in 1921 to its commercial availability in 1923.

“After the discovery of insulin was made, there were still significant challenges with purification. It was the biochemist James Collip who refined the manufacturing process in 1922, and paved the way for the first successful human dose,” says Rhonda Pacheco, president and general manager at Lilly Canada. “Our centennial campaign embodies the spirit of Collip’s tenacity and honours the bravery of Leonard Thompson and the millions whose lives were changed by the discovery of insulin, while inspiring a new generation of innovation and focus on diabetes care.”

2021 marks the 100 th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, and since its discovery, developments in insulin have come a long way. Lilly is commemorating the centennial milestone by recognizing diverse champions who remain dedicated to advancing diabetes management. The Leonard Award will be awarded in five $20,000 (US) grants to Life For a Child, which is an international diabetes initiative that supports children with diabetes in more than 43 countries. An international panel of judges will select one winner from each of five categories:

  • Teen/young adult: 18 to 25-year-old living with diabetes or with a strong personal connection to someone impacted by diabetes

  • Advocate/advocacy professional: Active advocate for people with diabetes, either through personal channels or with an established organization

  • Endocrinologist/primary care physician: Healthcare professional specializing in endocrinology or serving as a primary care physician to people with diabetes

  • Diabetes educator/nurse: Diabetes educator and/or nurse specializing in the care of people with diabetes

  • Researcher: Research professional dedicated to research in the field of diabetes care (therapeutics, technology or otherwise)

“I’m inspired by The Leonard Award and what this can mean for our next generation of advancements in diabetes,” says Dr. Sarah Linklater, Chief Scientific Officer at JDRF Canada, who will represent Canada on the international judging panel. “I’m excited to see the nominations and the innovative work that is being done around the globe, and I encourage Canadians to nominate someone in their community.”

To be considered for the Leonard Award, nominees will be required to submit an original project, innovation, or effort – beyond drug or device therapy – that addresses either an important need or challenge in the management of diabetes or aims to support the community. Winners will be selected by an external judges’ panel comprised of esteemed leaders in diabetes care. The five Leonard Award winners will be announced in November in advance of World Diabetes Day.

Nominations and submissions for the Leonard Award are being accepted now through August 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET. To learn more, nominate someone you know, or complete a submission, visit

About Diabetes in Canada 1
Approximately 11 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes. There are 3 major types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common diagnosis, followed by type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, and is usually temporary. Prediabetes is another important diagnosis that indicates an elevated risk of developing diabetes. Having high blood sugar can cause diabetes-related complications. Diabetes-related complications can be very serious and even life-threatening. Properly managing blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing these complications.

About Lilly Diabetes
Lilly has been a global leader in diabetes care since 1923, when we introduced the world’s first commercial insulin. Today we are building upon this heritage by working to meet the diverse needs of people with diabetes and people who care for them. Through research, collaboration and quality manufacturing we strive to make life better for people affected by diabetes and related conditions. We work to deliver breakthrough outcomes through innovative solutions—from medicines and technologies to support programs and more.

About Lilly Canada
Eli Lilly and Company is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by Colonel Eli Lilly, who was committed to creating high quality medicines that meet people’s needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to people who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and contribute to our communities through philanthropy and volunteerism.

Eli Lilly Canada was established in 1938, the result of a research collaboration with scientists at the University of Toronto which eventually produced the world’s first commercially available insulin. Our work focuses on oncology, diabetes, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, and pain. To learn more about Lilly Canada, please visit us at

For our perspective on issues in healthcare and innovation, follow us on twitter @LillyPadCA.


Media Contact:

Ethan Pigott


  1. Diabetes Canada: Last accessed on June 3, 2021.