Research Firsts

Drs. Charles Best and Frederick Banting

First clinical use of insulin for diabetes

(L-R) Best as a student, with Dr. Banting, standing on the roof of the Toronto medical building, 1922 (photo: Library and Archives Canada)

Dr. Gordon Murray

First clinical use of the anticoagulant heparin

Dr. Murray (photo: Gordon Murray, Quest in Medicine, The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1963)

Dr. Gordon Murray

North America’s first artificial kidney designed and used clinically

The Murray hemodialysis machine consisted of an electric motor-driven syringe pump system mounted on metal plate and a roll of cellulose acetate casing (photo: UHN)

Dr. Vera Peters

First use of radiation to cure Hodgkin disease

Patient receiving radiation therapy (photo: National Cancer Institute)

Dr. Vera Peters

Development of lumpectomy for breast cancer, which would later (in 1975) be shown to be as effective as radical mastectomy for breast cancer patients

Dr. Peters assisting a patient (photo: UHN)

Drs. Bill Bigelow, John Callaghan and John Hopps

First external heart pacemaker used in an open-heart resuscitation

Dr. Bigelow at the official opening of the Toronto General Hospital's expanding cardiovascular unit in 1962

Dr. Bill Bigelow

Use of total body cooling as a method of making heart surgery safer

Dr. Bigelow, March 14, 1972 (photo: Robert Lansdale photography; University of Toronto Archives. 2014-37-5MS)

Drs. Ernest McCulloch and James Till

Identificaton of blood forming stem cells—a discovery that enabled the first bone marrow transplants

(L-R) Drs. McCulloch and Till, holding a copy of the original publication (photo: courtesy of Martin Tosoian)

UHN Bone Marrow Transplant Unit

First allogeneic blood stem cell transplant (transplants between unrelated donors)

The transplanted blood stem cells are capable of repopulating the entire blood system (red and white blood cells are depicted in the above illustration)

Dr. Victor Ling

Identification of P-glycoprotein as a major cause of cancer drug resistance

Illustration of the structure of P-glycoprotein (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. Jack Cunningham

Development of software to control radiation therapy that would become the world standard for the next 20 years

Physicists form the PM Cancer Centre (previously known as the Ontario Cancer Institute) with cobalt radiation therapy equipment. Pictured (L-R) are Drs. Cunningham, Harold Johns, Jan Cederland and John Hunt (photo: UHN)

Dr. Stanley Fenton

Development of improved peritoneal dialysis technique that allows home peritoneal dialysis

Patient undergoing home peritoneal dialysis

Dr. Joel Cooper

First successful single-lung transplant

(L-R) Dr. Cooper, who led the TGH team that performed the world’s first successful lung transplant on Tom Hall in 1983, reunited with Barbara Hall, wife of the transplant recipient, at the 30th Anniversary celebration. (photo: UHN)

Dr. Tak Mak

Discovery of the T-cell receptor

Dr. Mak in the 1980s (photo: UHN)

Drs. Joel Cooper and Alec Patterson

First successful double-lung transplant

(L-R) Monica Assenheimer, second single-lung recipient; Tom Hall, world’s first single-lung recipient; and Ann Harrison, world’s first double-lung recipient (Source: Dr. Thomas R.J. Todd)

Drs. T Douglas Bradley and John Floras

Treatment of sleep apnea in patients with heart failure by a mechanical assist device (CPAP) that improves cardiac mechanics and cardiovascular function

(L-R) Drs. Bradley and Floras (photos: UHN)

Dr. John Dick

Identification of leukemia stem cells

Dr. John Dick

Drs.  Malcolm Moore and  Ian Tannock

Development of the world’s first chemotherapy treatment for hormone-resistant prostate cancer

(L-R) Drs. Moore and Tannock (photos: UHN)

Dr. Tirone David

Creation of a heart valve (known as the Toronto SPV) that can be custom fit to each patient and results in faster recovery and shorter hospital stays

Dr. David (photo: UHN)

Drs. Karen Davis, Jonathan Dostrovsky, Bill Hutchison and Andres Lozano

Identification of brain cells that control pain

Illustration of a neuron

Drs. Sidney Kennedy and Andres Lozano

First use of deep brain stimulation to help those with treatment-resistant depression

(L-R) Drs. Kennedy and Lozano (photos: UHN)

Dr. Paul Goss

First alternative treatment to taxol identified for preventing breast cancer recurrence in survivors

Patient receiving chemotherapy

Dr. Steven Gallinger

Genetic test designed to determine if chemotherapy will be an effective treatment for colon cancer

Dr. Gallinger

Dr. Ian Tannock

A drug called docetaxel is found to prolong survival and improve quality of life for prostate cancer patients

Dr. Tannock (photo: UHN Photographics)

Dr. Norman Boyd

Breast density is identified as a major risk factor for breast cancer and later found to be highly inheritable

Dr. Boyd

Dr. John Dick

Colon cancer stem cells identified

Dr. Dick (photo: UHN StRIDe)

Drs. Igor Jurisica, Frances Shepherd and Ming Tsao

Discovery of a gene signature that predicts lung cancer patients’ response to chemotherapy in combination with surgery

(L-R) Drs. Jurisica, Tsao and Shepherd (photo: UHN)

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee

First transplant using donor lungs repaired outside of the body (ex vivo) using a newly developed lung perfusion technique

The Toronto XVIVO System (pictured) enables donated lungs to be repaired outside of the body (Photo: UHN)

Dr. Andres Lozano

Deep brain stimulation found to improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer disease

Dr. Lozano (photo: UHN)

Dr. John Dick

Human blood stem cell isolated in its purest form—as a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system

llustration depicting hematopoiesis—the process through which a single blood stem cell differentiates into other types of blood cell

Drs. Marc de Perrot and John Cho

Radiation therapy prior to surgery found to double survival rates in mesothelioma patients

Drs. de Perrot and Cho