Designer Iris De La Torre reveals The Royal Mints 100 Years of Insulin 50p

The Royal Mint has launched a commemorative 50p coin in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, marking the historic medical breakthrough for the first time on official UK coin.

The 100 Years of Insulin 50p celebrates the life-saving treatment for diabetes discovered by researchers; Dr John Macleod, Sir Frederick Banting, Dr Charles Best and Dr James Collip in 1921.

Designed by renowned artist Iris De La Torre, the contemporary design is an artistic interpretation of the structure of insulin along with its molecular formula.

Inspired by an image of human insulin crystals through a microscope, the design features a geometric pattern repeat using hexagons and circular shapes on the canvas of an official UK 50p coin.

The new 50p coin, available in brilliant uncirculated and precious metals, is the fifth release in The Royal Mint’s ‘Innovation in Science’ series, which pays tribute to some of the greatest scientific discoveries.

The latest 50p follows commemorative coins in recognition of the life and work of inventors Charles Babbage, John Logie Baird, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Hawking, as part of the collectable series.

The Royal Mint’s Divisional Director of Commemorative Coin Clare Maclennan said: “The collectable 100 Years of Insulin 50p, designed by artist Iris De La Torre, is a beautiful piece of art which celebrates the importance of the ground-breaking discovery of insulin on an official UK coin. A landmark medical breakthrough of the twentieth century, it has transformed the lives of people with diabetes for 100 years and is a fitting addition to our Innovation in Science collectable series, marking the greatest scientific innovations and the remarkable people behind them.”

Designer of the 100 Years of Insulin 50p, artist Iris De La Torre, said: “Coins are pieces of art and maintainers of history and tradition and so to see my design on an official UK coin that celebrates and raises awareness of such an important discovery is a dream come true.”

Speaking of the design, she added: “I came up with a design inspired by images of an accurate segmentation of single-isolated human insulin crystals for in-situ microscopy that I found in a medical document online. The image shows segments of human insulin crystals in the form of hexagons. It is a beautiful image and inspired a pattern repeat which worked well on the 50p coin.”

Professor Mirela Delibegovic, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre, consulted with The Royal Mint on this project, adding: “The insulin breakthrough is one of the most significant in medical sciences and was led by a team which included University of Aberdeen graduate JJR MacLeod. We are delighted to see this legacy recognised on a UK coin. This beautiful design is a fitting tribute to the Toronto research team and for all the researchers who have followed in their footsteps by working on new ways to treat and manage diabetes.”

The 100 Years of Insulin 50p coin is available to purchase from today at The Royal Mint website.

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