Breakthrough is terrific! The authors’ blending of the events of the time with the trials of discovery... creates a powerful story of one of medicine’s greatest discoveries.”

—Dr. Kenneth Quickel, President and CEO, Joslin Diabetes Center


In 1919, when eleven-year-old Elizabeth Hughes is diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, it is essentially a death sentence. The only accepted treatment—starvation—whittles her down to forty-five pounds of skin and bones. It is the discovery of insulin, by Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best, that saves her life—and the lives of diabetics around the world.

Breakthrough details one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time, bringing to life those who made it happen and those whose lives were changed forever.

Praise for Breakthrough

"... 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

"Breakthrough is a meticulously researched story..."

San Franscisco Book Review

"Breakthrough 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

About the Authors


Arthur Ainsberg

Arthur Ainsberg is a writer and a Wall Street executive. A veteran of the financial services industry, Mr. Ainsberg has served in senior management and consulting roles at Oppenheimer, Odyssey Partners, and Morgan Stanley. He is also a scholar on the Endurance, the early 20th century expedition to Antarctica by Sir Ernest Shackleton. In 2008, he published his first book, Shackleton: Leadership Lessons from Antarctica, which highlights the most important leadership lessons to be learned from Shackleton’s story. Mr. Ainsberg speaks and lectures frequently on the lessons of Shackleton’s nearly 17 months at sea, including nearly 15 months stranded on an ice island.

Thea Cooper

Thea Cooper is a writer, editor, and teacher. Throughout her professional career Thea has applied her love of language and narrative structure to a range of environments, from higher education to corporate communications, creating effective, audience-centric communications and strategies in both the profit and nonprofit sectors. Her specialty is synthesizing complex or esoteric content and identifying an organic narrative structure within bodies of information. She has worked in print, spoken word presentation, and online.