Aberdeen Business News
July 11, 2022

Approval for statue to commemorate co-discoverer of insulin triggers fundraising campaign

Plans to erect a life-size bronze statue honouring the Aberdonian Nobel prize-winner who co-discovered insulin a century ago have been approved by Aberdeen City Council.


The application to place the statue in the city’s Duthie Park, which was submitted by the JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society, has now passed through the final stage of the process, and been given the go-ahead by the council’s planning committee.

The project will be funded entirely by donations. With planning permission now granted, the Society is kicking off a fundraising campaign to raise the £100, 000 needed to have the bronze cast sculpture in place by 2023. Any money raised over and above the target for the statue will be split equally between two diabetes charities – Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, and Diabetes UK.  Both charities play an active role in the Society and are very supportive of the memorial.  

Professor John ‘Jack’ Macleod shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923 as a co-discoverer of the sugar-regulating hormone, insulin, and is directly responsible for saving the lives of millions of people with Type 1 diabetes. While not a cure for the potentially fatal condition, insulin treatment keeps people with Type 1 diabetes alive and able to manage their condition.

The Society has earmarked a spot by trees to the North-west of Duthie Park, overlooking the common green, and just a short walk from Professor Macleod’s grave in Allenvale Cemetery. Ayrshire-based sculptor John McKenna has been commissioned for the project. His previous works include the statue of AC/DC frontman, Bon Scott, in Kirriemuir, and Celtic greats Jock Stein and Billy McNeil outside Parkhead.

Mr McKenna’s latest design shows a seated Professor Macleod on a bench, gazing over the park. A newspaper by his side will bear the headline: Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to co-discoverers of insulin. A bronze plaque will share further details about the renowned scientist. The statue and bench will rest on a terrace of Aberdeen granite, and top sponsors will have their names featured permanently on the display.

Society Founder and Chairman John Otto, 57, has lived with Type 1 diabetes since the age of nine. He welcomed the decision to grant planning permission for the memorial:

“All of us in JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society are absolutely thrilled that Aberdeen City Council have given us the green light to proceed with our ambition to honour one of the city’s most accomplished sons. We are now very excited to launch our fundraising campaign which will finance this project to recognise Prof Macleod’s global scientific legacy.”

“Macleod led the team which developed clinically useable insulin in 1922. Prior to this, the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes resulted in certain death.”

“Over the past century, tens of millions of people around the world with Type 1 diabetes owe their very existence to the miracle drug insulin, the origins of which can be traced back right here to the city of Aberdeen, where John Macleod’s career in medicine began.”

“Despite being jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in 1923, Macleod’s name was largely airbrushed from history during his lifetime. We welcome donations from private donors and corporate sponsors who share our ambition to recognise this unsung hero’s truly life-saving work.”

The statue is provisionally scheduled to be unveiled at a gala ceremony and marquee reception in Duthie Park in late summer 2023.