The Doc and the Duchess

The Doc and the Duchess

The Life and Legacy of George H. A. Clowes
Alexander W. Clowes, foreword by John Lechleiter
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/02/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-02055-0
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George Henry Alexander Clowes was a pivotal figure in the development of the insulin program at the Eli Lilly Company. Through his leadership, scientists and clinicians at Lilly and the University of Toronto created a unique, international team to develop and purify insulin and take the production of this life-saving agent to an industrial scale. This biography, written by his grandson, presents his scientific achievements, and also takes note of his social and philanthropic contributions, which he shared with his wife, Edith. It tells the story of Clowes from his childhood in late Victorian England to his death at Woods Hole on Cape Cod in 1958. Educated in England and Germany, Clowes came to America to join a startup laboratory in Buffalo, where he conducted basic research on cancer and applied research on other disease-related problems. Assuming the position of head of research at Lilly, Clowes was at the center of one of the great discoveries that changed the course of medical history and offered new life to millions of individuals with diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Clowes was also instrumental in the development of other commercial pharmaceutical advances. Devoted to a number of philanthropic causes, Clowes and Edith contributed greatly to the cultural life of his adopted country, a contribution that continues to this day.

Author Bio

Alexander W. Clowes (1946–2015), vascular surgeon, internationally renowned scientist in vascular biology, teacher and mentor, held the Gavora-Schilling Endowed Chair of Vascular Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Clowes was a Director and President of The Clowes Fund.


“Written by his grandson, this vivid biography presents Clowes's life and achievements in the development of the insulin program at Eli Lilly Company, also taking note of the social and philanthropic contributions he shared with his wife, Edith.”

“A delight to read--well written and authoritative. This is an insider's story, lovingly told.”
 — Leonard Warren, author of Maclure of New Harmony

“This is a fascinating story about an incredible man, his wife, and his family.  Everyone interested in the early days after the discovery of insulin will want to read this book.”
 — Irl B. Hirsch, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Diabetes Treatment and Teaching Chair, University of Washington Scho

“Vividly told, the book captures the personalities of the protagonists, contains scientifically sophisticated explanations about the development of marketable insulin, and invokes the evolving environment—economic, medical, social, and familial—in which the story takes place.”
 — Strobe Talbott, author of The Great Experiment

“This well-researched book celebrates the lives of George H. A. and Edith Clowes. GHA Clowes’ advanced research made Eli Lilly and Company a world leader in the development of insulin and played a critical role in Lilly's development into a global pharmaceutical company.”
 — Michael Bliss, author of The Discovery of Insulin

“The Doc and the Duchess is a must-read for anyone interested in drug development, medical history, and diabetes. Clowes gives us a thorough, compelling, and important book, offering unprecedented insight into his grandfather, whose extraordinary gift for inspiring scientists to work together long predated modern concepts of networking and teambuilding.  The letters, interviews, and family lore illuminate an original thinker with a personality as irresistible on the page as it must have been in person.”
 — Thea Cooper, author of Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Mira

“The Doc and the Duchess is . . . a labor of love and yet another treasure that the Clowes family has bequeathed to the Indianapolis community.”
 — Indiana Magazine of History

“The book is written in a clear but engaging manner, neither fawning nor clinical. Readers should find it informative and enlightening, showing the personal lives behind some very public endeavors.”
 — The Franklin Daily Journal

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Table of Contents

Foreword / John Lechleiter
Introduction: A Warm Embrace
1. Growing Up in Victorian England
2. The Search for a Cure of Cancer
3. Edith Whitehill Hinkel
4. Alec and Edith
5. 1914: The End of an Era
6. In the Borderline Fields of Medicine
7. Lilly and the Insulin Story
8. From Small to Large Scale Production of Insulin
9. Expansion of the Research Programs
10. Woods Hole, MBL, and the Pursuit of Cancer
11. The Duchess, The Doc and The Boys
12. Alec and Edith: Indianapolis Benefactors
13. A Legacy: In Others’ Eyes
Appendix I: Publications of George Henry Alexander Clowes
Appendix II: Chronology of Ancestry
Works Cited