Our History

SDRI WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1944 by world-renowned medical pioneer,

Dr. William Sansum, who was the first United States physician to successfully

manufacture and administer life-saving insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

SDRI WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1944 by world-renowned medical pioneer, Dr. William Sansum, who was the first United States physician to successfully manufacture and administer life-saving insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

Dr. Sansum made history treating a terminally ill patient, Charles Cowan, with insulin, saving his life and countless others. Until the discovery of insulin, a diagnosis of diabetes was a death sentence. Dr. Sansum established Santa Barbara as America’s center for advances in diabetes research and treatment and earned the nickname “Santa Barbara Miracle Man” for his groundbreaking work.

SDRI has continued to make significant contributions that have improved the health and lives of those impacted by diabetes. The late Dr. Lois Jovanovic, former Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer at SDRI, pioneered research and treatment guidelines that completely changed how we treat diabetes in pregnancy worldwide.

Investigators at SDRI have also made seminal contributions to the development of the artificial pancreas (a wearable device that measures blood sugar and automatically delivers the precise amount of insulin needed to maintain glucose control 24 hours a day).

SDRI continues to make significant contributions that improve the health and lives of those impacted by diabetes.

Named “Santa Barbara Miracle Man”, Dr. Sansum developed a method for standardizing insulin, and was a Santa Barbara insulin pioneer, along with Melville Sahyn, Norman Blatherwick, Loyal Maxwell, and Dr. Marion Bell.

Dr. Sansum (#1 in photo) and his first insulin patients gathered in Santa Barbara in 1924 for this group photo. Charles Cowan (#2 in photo) was the first patient ever to receive insulin made in the U.S., and Cowan lived until he was 90 with no complications due to his diabetes.

30 years ahead of his time, Dr. Sansum (pictured in his laboratory) in 1947 became intensely interested in a far-out idea – a method whereby cells of the pancreas could be grown in test tubes to create an insulin-producing organism which could be transplanted surgically into the human body.