Breakthrough: the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg

"With insulin, dying children laughed and played again, as parents wept and doctors spoke of biblical resurrections."
-The New York Times

"... the authors' ... are adept at telling their complicated, multifaceted story with energy and vividness. Their account of diabetics' treatment before the production of insulin is harrowing."
-The Washington Times

"Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Hughes was among the first wave of patients to benefit from the marriage of dogged research and commercial enterprise on the part of Lilly & Co. to manufacture the drug. Author and playwright Cooper and finance-veteran-turned-author Ainsberg bolster the account with impressive sourcing. They also pay particular attention to the complexities of the human drama--the indomitable Elizabeth; her visionary parents; the quarrelsome, 'crazy,' and eventual Nobel Prize–winning researchers; and the bold commercial pioneers. And it's those details that make this extraordinary chapter of medical history so memorable."
Publishers Weekly

"A work that sometimes reads like a novel, with the characters brought to life through their... thoughts, remarks and physical gestures…A readable tale of medical achievement."
Kirkus Review

"... Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg follow the discovery of insulin and the revolution it sparked in diabetes treatment ..."
Laura Landro, "Wellness Reading List: Five Top Picks of 2010," The Wall Street Journal

"[Breakthrough] successfully weaves together the personal struggles of the patients, doctors and scientists living and dying on the edge of one of medicine's greatest discoveries."
Peter Lipson, physician and medical blogger, at

"Breakthrough is a meticulously researched story..."
San Franscisco Book Review

"It's easy to read in history books that the discovery of insulin was a medical miracle. But what emerges from the show, inspired by a new, similarly titled book by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, are the emotions tied up in it."
The L Magazine


"'Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle,' by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, captures the complex human drama of the teenage girl who was saved by insulin."
—James S. Hirsch, award-winning journalist and author

"[Elizabeth's] story – a remarkable brew of courage, triumph, secrecy, and shame – resonates to this day, and new details of her life emerge in a book that will be published later this year."
—James S. Hirsch

Breakthrough is terrific!  The authors’ blending of the events of the time with the trials
of discovery and with the pain of diabetes for patients, families and caregivers, creates a powerful story of one of medicine’s greatest discoveries.   Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg are to be congratulated for a really fine book.”
—Dr. Kenneth Quickel, President and CEO, Joslin Diabetes Center


"Through their portrayal of Elizabeth Hughes' dramatic life story, Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg give us a full appreciation of how far diabetes management has come, and how fortunate we are to have the tools of today to help us live full lives."

—Charlie Kimball, Professional Race Car Driver with Type 1 diabetes

"Breakthrough is the fascinating tale of Nobel prize-winning research, of a young girl who should have died as a child but instead lived to see seven grandchildren, and of a drug that turned a death sentence into something more akin to a chronic nuisance. This book is an important read for anyone with diabetes. It is an enjoyable read for those who love mystery and human drama."
—Dr. Kenneth T. Jackson, Barzun Professor of History, Columbia University