History, Holidays & Observances on January 11

Memorial of Mary Mitchell Slessor, First use of Insulin on a human patient, Nika Riots, Muhammed takes Mecca, Kingsland Munition Factroy, Occupation of the Ruhr, Designated-Hitter Rule

Holidays and Observances

Presbyterian Memorial of Mary Mitchell Slessor a 19th century Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Nigeria who very successfully spread Christianity “while promoting women’s rights and protecting native children. She is most famous for having stopped the common practice of infanticide of twins among the Ibibio people” of southeastern Nigeria.

Major Events on January 11

1922 – First use of insulin to treat diabetes in a human patient.

The isolation of insulin to treat diabetes type 1 was a watershed moment in medical history. Diabetes Type 1 is a condition in which a person’s immune system destroys insulin making cells in their pancreas. Insulin itself is the body’s main anabolic hormone. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat, and skeletal muscle cells. Without insulin, the amount of glucose in the blood goes wildly out of the normal range.

The first description of a person with diabetes stretches back to ancient Egypt, circa 1550 B.C. In a medical papyrus, a sufferer was described as urinating too often, the classic symptom of the disease. On the papyrus is recorded the treatment. To drink, the physician gave “a measuring glass filled with Water from the Bird pond, Elderberry, Fibres of the asit plant, Fresh Milk, Beer-Swill, Flower of the Cucumber, and Green Dates.” And as well, the physician also gave “rectal injections of olive oil, honey, sweet beer, sea salt, and seeds of the wonderfruit.”

In the days before insulin, the onset of diabetes type 1 was a death sentence, irrespective of the pond water or wonderfruit seeds. Before the creation of insulin the average life expectancy of a child diagnosed with diabetes was less then a year. Twenty percent of adults died within two years of the onset of the disease. Adults with diabetes would lose limbs, go blind, suffer kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, and death. Few with the illness survived beyond the age of 40.

By 1900, researchers understood that there was a relationship between diabetes type 1 and the pancreas. In late 1920, Canadian surgeon Frederick Banting began experimenting with dogs to see if he could extract insulin from their bodies. Along with a lab assistant, Charles Best, they succeeded on 30 July, 1921 in isolating insulin from a dog. They injected it into a diabetic dog, finding that the extract reduced its blood sugar by 40% in 1 hour.

Banting and Best presented their results to [Univ. of Toronto Prof. of Physiology J.J.R.] Macleod . . . in the fall of 1921, but Macleod pointed out flaws with the experimental design, and suggested the experiments be repeated with more dogs and better equipment. He moved Banting and Best into a better laboratory and began paying Banting a salary from his research grants. Several weeks later, the second round of experiments was also a success, and Macleod helped publish their results privately in Toronto that November. . . . By December, they had also succeeded in extracting insulin from the adult cow pancreas. Macleod discontinued all other research in his laboratory to concentrate on the purification of insulin. He invited biochemist James Collip to help with this task, and the team felt ready for a clinical test within a month

On January 11, 1922, Leonard Thompson, a 14-year-old diabetic who lay dying at the Toronto General Hospital, was given the first injection of insulin. However, the extract was so impure that Thompson suffered a severe allergic reaction, and further injections were cancelled. Over the next 12 days, Collip worked day and night to improve the ox-pancreas extract. A second dose was injected on January 23, completely eliminating the glycosuria that was typical of diabetes without causing any obvious side-effects.

Thompson recovered his health and, using insulin, survived for 13 years until he succumbed to pneumonia in the years prior to penicillin. The four men, Banting, Best, Macleod and Collip, patented their work and transferred the patent to the Univ. of Toronto for $1, to insure that insulin could be made affordably. In 1923, Banting and Macleod were jointly awarded a Nobel prize for their work, the proceeds of which the two men shared with Best and Collip.

As of 2016, with improvements in insulin and the methods of treatment, the average life expectancy for a person suffering Type I diabetes is about 12 years shy of that for healthy members of the general population.

Notable Events on January 11

532 – In Constantinople, a quarrel between supporters of different chariot teams in the Hippodrome turned violent, ultimately exploding into the Nika riots. The riots targeted the regime of Byzantium Emperor Justinian I. Lasting a week, they were the most violent riots in the city’s history, with nearly half of Constantinople being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed. Justinian survived the riots and reigned for another 33 years.

630 – Muhammad and an army of 10,000 Arabs march on Mecca. The towns leader, on this day, converted to Islam and negotiated a peaceful surrender of the town.

1917 – A fire broke out in the Kingsland munitions factory in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. In 4 hours, probably 500,000 pieces of 76 mm high explosive shells discharged in an amazing display of fireworks that could be seen from New York City. The entire plant was destroyed. This was during WWI and the explosion was initially attributed to sabotage by an agent of Germany. An investigation finally completed in 1931 determined that sabotage was not the cause.

1923 – Troops from France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr area for two years beginning on this date in a largely fruitless effort to force Germany to make its World War I reparation payments. You can’t squeeze blood from a rock. France and Belgium accomplished little more than radicalizing and humiliating Germany, and in a few short years, Germans would repay the favor by occupying France and Belgium.

1943 – Carlo Tresca was a newspaper editor and a radical anarchist in New York City. In his paper, he was New York’s leading public opponent of fascism, Stalinism, and Mafia infiltration of the trade union movement. It was the latter that resulted in his assassination on this date by Carmine Galante, of the Bonanno crime family.

1964 – U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Luther Terry, published Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health. From such small embers did the conflagration of the Nanny State begin.

1972 – At the conclusion of the Bangladesh Liberation War, half the nation of Pakistan, the people in the area formerly known as East Pakistan, secede and, on this date, rename their country Bangladesh.

1973 – Major League Baseball owners vote in approval of the American League adopting the designated hitter position. It is proof that all change is not for the better.

1998 – Islamic terrorists of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA) commit the Sidi-Hamed massacre in Algeria, killing 103, injuring 70 and kidnapping 30 women.

Born on January 11

347 – Theodosius I, the last Roman emperor to rule over both the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire. He is best remembered for issuing a series of decrees that made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

1503 – Parmigianino, a talented Italian artist whose career was interrupted by war and ended by an early death.

1755 – Alexander Hamilton, who, orphaned as a child in the Caribbean, came to the colonies, rose to be one of Washington’s senior aides, led the call for the Constitutional Convention, championed passage of the Constitution, and retired America’s debt as the First Secretary of the Treasury. He was one of the more important Founding Fathers of the U.S.

1843 – Adolf Eberle, German painter who specialized in painting Bavarian and Tyrolean farmers and huntsmen.

1853 – Georgios Jakobides, a painter and “one of the main representatives of the Greek artistic movement of the Munich School. He founded and was the first curator of the National Gallery of Greece in Athens.”

Died on January 11

1843 – Francis Scott Key, the lawyer who, being held captive by the British aboard ship in Chesapeake Bay, witnessed the bombing of Fort and wrote the poem, Defence of Fort M’Henry.

After publication, he took it to a music publisher who set the words to the old English drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven. Thus became the U.S. national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

2015 – Anita Ekberg, a Swedish actress who was one of the more beautiful actresses of the mid-20th century Hollywood.