Celebrating Our History

Every year new discoveries are being made and patient care is being improved upon at Joslin Diabetes Center. We celebrate these accomplishments because we know they are making a difference in the care of diabetes patients worldwide. Discover the major milestones that have shaped our institution — and how they've influenced diabetes care guidelines across the globe.

History of Joslin

1893: The First Entry: Joslin diagnoses Mary Higgins with Diabetes, and thus his interest in Diabetes began to grow and Mary Higgins’ name is the first among 130,000+ Joslin patients.

1897: Dr. Joslin, while still at Harvard Medical School, attends to his Aunt who is dying from complications related to Diabetes. His mother would soon become a patient of his as well.

1898: Dr. Joslin wrote his first survey on Diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus at the Massachusetts General Hospital From 1824-1898.

1898: Dr. Joslin enters the practice of medicine; begins Diabetes Registry--first of its kind

1898-1906: Dr. Joslin publishes 17 papers on Diabetes and paves the way his first textbook on Diabetes to be published a decade later.

1906: 37-year-old Dr. Joslin moves into 81 Bay State Road and begins what will be 50 years of practice at this address, before moving to 15 Joslin Place (now 1 Joslin Place) in 1957.

1916: Dr. Joslin publishes the first diabetic textbook of its kind in English titled, The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

1918: Dr. Joslin publishes his first patient manual on diabetes, Diabetic Manual.

1919: Dr. Joslin's in-patient group education begins--"Dr. Joslin's Trademark"—“those who know the most live the longest”- Joslin mantra.

1920: Dr. Root joins Dr. Joslin’s team and takes on the role of enlarging the hospital service of Joslin patients.

1921: Dr. Joslin reports on obesity as the key factor in the onset of Adult-onset diabetes.

1921/22: Arrival of insulin: Given Dr. Joslin’s stance as America’s first Diabetologist, Dr. Joslin was appointed to the “Insulin Committee” of America, where he assisted in clinical trials of insulin and was given a small batch of insulin for his patients most in need of insulin.

1922: Dr. Joslin creates a nurse educator role to team manage "home, hospital & camp" programs.

1922: Special foot team formed with vascular surgeons-major advances in saving limbs begins.

1922: Dr. Joslin invites Dr. White, fresh out of medical school, to join his team and tasks her with developing programs for juvenile diabetic patients.

1923: Dr. Marble joins Joslin. Dr. Marble was a natural at editing manuscripts and became essential to Dr. Joslin on subsequent editions of Joslin’s Textbooks & Manuals.

1931: The Medalist Program begins: ‘Expectation of Life Award.' [Medalist tradition begins].

1932: Joslin establishes a diabetic summer camp for girls.

1934: The Baker Clinic at Deaconess Hospital is built - Dr. Joslin receives donor funds for the first of its kind in America all-purpose clinical care/investigation unit.

1934: New insulin is given the first clinical trials in the US.

1948: Joslin establishes a diabetic summer camp for boys.

1955: Dr. Joslin forms 'The Diabetes Foundation, Inc.' –funds new Joslin Clinic headquarter on Joslin Road/Place, a modern complex, replaces the Baker Clinic.

1956: Dr. Joslin moves his clinic to its current location at 15 Joslin Place (now 1 Joslin Place). The new name of the clinic is ‘Diabetes Foundation Inc.’

1957: DTU [Diabetic Treatment Unit] grows popular for intense diabetic control for all ages.

1961: The first Home Glucose Monitoring systems become available.

1962: Dr. Joslin passes away at the age of 92.

1962: Joslin complex renamed 'Joslin Diabetes Foundation' [JDF].

1963: New EPJ Lab opens, replaces Baker Lab--Dr. George Cahill appointed as first Director.

1963: Joslin and Harvard Medical School establish a working affiliation.

1967: Ruby LASER discovery. Drs. Beetham and Aiello pioneer the way for saving thousands of diabetics from going blind from retinopathy.

1974: Dr. Priscilla White retires with the world-class Pregnancy Clinic well established.

1974: Joslin group awarded NIH grants for diabetes research training center--allowing Joslin to expand greatly in research and educational efforts.

1976: The 'Root Wing' built, expanding the building to Brookline Ave--increasing room for care & research.

1976: The Beetham Eye Unit takes modern form installing a new advanced laser treatment ["Blindness Blocked"].

1976: Joslin begins the introduction of A1C assay and glucose meter use.

1979: Diabetes Classification updated: [Joslin studies with islet cell antibodies contribute to the clarification of Type I vs. II].

1981: Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Unit established.

1983: Joslin Diabetes Foundation renamed: JDC- Joslin Diabetes Center].

1998: Joslin Diabetes Center celebrates its centenary and accompanying this milestone Dr. Barnett publishes, Elliott P. Joslin, MD: A Centennial Portrait.

2000: Researchers discover a way to encourage pancreas cells that do not normally produce insulin to become insulin-producing cells--Susan Bonner-Weir, Ph.D, and Gordon C. Weir, M.D.

2000: Insulin signaling in the brain is linked to type 2 diabetes, appetite control, obesity and even infertility--Dr. C. Ronald Kahn and colleagues.

2001-2005: Joslin begins outreach to multicultural populations at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Targets awareness campaign to African Americans, and launches Latino Diabetes Initiative and an Asian American Diabetes Initiative, both of which offer a bilingual clinic at Joslin Clinic.

2002: The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study shows people with elevated blood glucose levels who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk by 58 percent through sustained modest weight loss and increased moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking 30 minutes daily.

2002: The Joslin Diabetes Center establishes the Latino Diabetes Initiative (LDI).

2003: Researchers find that mice that were genetically altered to have fat that did not respond to insulin could overeat without gaining weight, becoming protected against obesity and type 2 diabetes--Dr. Kahn’s lab.

2003: Investigators discover in type 1 diabetic patients that early signs of kidney disease (microalbuminuria) can be reversed back to normal with proper medical screening and diabetes control--Andrzej Krolewski, M.D., Ph.D., and Bruce Perkins, M.D., M.P.H.

2003: Joslin "Care Ambassadors” (case managers) make a significant difference in helping children control blood glucose.

2003: Online discussion boards are started for teens and their families to learn more about living with diabetes from professionals and from each other.

2003: JoslinCare is now the official way of expressing the kind of diabetes care for which Joslin has been renowned the past 100 years. JoslinCare provides each individual patient with a customized pathway of state-of-the-art care: sequenced diabetes education, personalized nutrition and exercise prescriptions, and lifelong health management programs.

2003: Research shows that obese adults with diabetes or pre-diabetes who lose seven percent of their body weight and do moderate-intensity physical activity for six months improve their major blood vessel function by about 80 percent, reducing their risk of heart disease (Osama Hamdy, M.D., Ph.D.)

2003: Joslin publishes the first Chinese-English book (Staying Healthy with Diabetes: A Guide for the Chinese American Community) with culturally specific tips for diabetes management.

2003: Longstanding clinical collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is expanded, furthering Joslin’s expertise in treating the clinical complications of diabetes.

2003: Center for Innovation in Diabetes Education is created to identify the barriers to diabetes self-care and devise ways to overcome them.

2004: First international affiliate opens in Bahrain. Diabetes affects more than 25 percent of the population in Bahrain, a country in the Persian Gulf.

2004: Camp Joslin celebrates its 80th anniversary.

2005: Joslin Diabetes Center establishes a medalist study focusing on recipients of Joslin’s 50-year medal. To date, 4,833 people have received the 50-year medal.

2005: Scientists demonstrate that when people gain weight, they activate a “master switch” (known as NF-kB), which triggers the inflammation pathway that leads to insulin resistance. Aspirin-like anti-inflammatory drugs can turn off this response--Steven Shoelson, M.D., Ph.D. 

2005: Research shows that poor prenatal nutrition permanently damages the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, raising the risk that the child will later develop type 2 diabetes--Mary-Elizabeth Patti, M.D.

2005: Joslin publishes nutrition guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes that are overweight or obese. The guidelines are designed to combat the epidemic of type 2 diabetes with effective nutrition strategies for this population. Those who follow the guidelines should see an improvement in insulin sensitivity, a reduction in visceral fat, improved lipid levels and weight loss.

2005: Joslin becomes the exclusive provider of diabetes information for the new Best Health Web site by U.S. News & World Report.

2005: WHY WAIT—a 12 week course at Joslin begins, with the intent of educating diabetic patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.

2006: Second international affiliate opens in Canada.

2006: Joslin teams up with Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain, to improve health outcomes for millions of Americans by offering pharmacy-based resources for diabetes prevention and care.

2006: Joslin is selected as one of nine teams nationwide to participate in a landmark program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and test ideas for how consumers can use information technology to better manage their health and navigate the healthcare system.

2006: A Joslin-led study documents for the first time subtle changes in the gray matter of the brain of type 1 diabetes patients compared to control subjects who did not have diabetes--Alan Jacobson, M.D.

2007: Joslin researchers discover a protein that causes blood vessel leakage in eyes with diabetic retinopathy--Edward Feener, M.D.

2008: Investigators show that salsalate, an inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug similar to aspirin, may prevent and help to treat type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose and reducing inflammation--Allison Goldfine, M.D., and Dr. Shoelson.

2008: A Joslin study identifies insulin resistance in the liver as a key factor in the cause of metabolic syndrome and its associated atherosclerosis, pinpointing a target for treatment of the condition afflicting millions--Sudha Biddinger, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Kahn.

2008: Joslin researchers demonstrate that a protein known for its role in inducing bone growth can also help promote the development of brown fat, a “good” fat that helps in the expenditure of energy and may play a role in fighting obesity--Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D.

2008: Scientists show that insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells can form after birth or after injury from adult stem cells within the pancreas that are not beta cells--Dr. Bonner-Weir’s lab.

2009: Researchers demonstrate that adult humans still have energy-burning brown fat, a finding that could pave the way for new treatments both for obesity and type 2 diabetes--Dr. Kahn’s lab and Aaron Cypess, M.D., Ph.D.

2009: In separate efforts, Joslin researchers identify two mechanisms that can kill insulin-producing cells in diabetes—one when the cells themselves can’t import insulin properly and another when high blood glucose levels damage a key enzyme--Rohit Kulkarni, M.D., Ph.D., and Robert Stanton, M.D.

2010: Salsalate passes the next clinical hurdle in an FDA phase 2/3 trial for treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes--Dr. Goldfine’s lab and Dr. Shoelson’s lab.

2010: A national clinical trial confirms the effectiveness of ranibizumab (Lucentis) eye injections, often in combination with laser treatment, as a standard treatment for diabetes-associated swelling of the retina. Joslin basic research laid the foundation for this improved therapy--Lloyd P. Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. King’s lab.

2010: Joslin research shows insulin guards against artery damage and atherosclerosis, which are major causes of death in type 1 and 2 diabetic patients--Dr. King’s lab.

2010: Scientists at Joslin conclusively demonstrate that a surprisingly high percentage of people with type 1 diabetes who have had the disease for 50 years or longer may still have insulin-producing islet cells and/or islet cell antibodies--Dr. King’s lab and Hillary Keenan, Ph.D.

2010: Researchers identify adult stem cells in white fat tissue and skeletal muscle that can be transformed into brown fat cells--Dr. Tseng’s lab.

2011: Joslin expands its educational projects focusing on Continuing Medical Education (CME).

2012: Joslin’s Human Immunobiology Program Project (HIPP) is launched in an effort to find a cure for type 1 diabetes through research surrounding autoimmunity and beta-cell problems.

2013: Researchers at Joslin discover that immune cells responsible for beta cell destruction type 1 diabetes may also promote beta-cell growth.

2014: Joslin Patient Portal launched with the goal of patients and physicians virtually interacting over a webcam. Joslin patients can now consult their physicians face to face from the comforts of their home when using the Joslin Patient Portal.

2014: The Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) at Joslin is listed among the top research and treatment institutions worldwide for diabetic retinopathy care.

2015: Eye mural unveiled in the foyer commemorating the 1967 discovery by Drs. Beetham and Aiello together performed the first pan-retinal laser photocoagulation procedure. Without this procedure, these patients were destined for blindness.

2016: 100th anniversary of the first publication of Dr. Joslin’s, The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus

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