A new toonie honouring a major Canadian medical achievement is now in circulation.
The Royal Canadian Mint on Tuesday announced that it has begun issuing new $2 coins that celebrate the 100th anniversary since the discovery of insulin, which is used by millions around the world to help treat diabetes.
Designed by Kitchener-Waterloo artist Jesse Koreck, the new coin features a monomer – the building block of the insulin molecule – red blood cells, glucose, and insulin cells. It also features a vial, mortar and pestle, and an Erlenmeyer flask, which was used in the early formulation of insulin.
“This commemorative circulation coin is a heartfelt and enduring “thank you” to the talented researchers behind a Canadian medical breakthrough that has saved millions of lives over the last 100 years, and continues to do so today,” Marie Lemay, the Royal Canadian Mint’s president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.
In 1921, researchers Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best managed to extract insulin from a dog’s pancreas at the University of Toronto. Shortly thereafter, the two researchers – along with fellow colleagues James Collip and John Macleod – were able to refine insulin so that it could be used in humans with diabetes.
The first injection of insulin was given to a teenager dying of diabetes in Toronto in 1922 – saving his life – and has since been given to millions worldwide.
In 1923, Banting and Macleod received the Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery of insulin, which they shared with Best and Collip.
“The Nobel Prize-winning Canadian discovery of insulin in 1921 is one of the 20th century’s most celebrated medical discoveries, which has saved millions of lives in Canada and around the world,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said in a media release.
A total of two million coloured versions of the new $2 coin and one million uncoloured versions will eventually be released, according to the Royal Canadian Mint.
MORE: Mint releases new $2 coin commemorating 75th anniversary of the end of WWII