The D. Harold Copp Lecture is a UBC Faculty of Medicine sponsored lectureship that arose in November 1996 through donations from the Medical Research Council of Canada and the Wolfe and Gita Churg Foundation. Named after the late Doctor D. Harold Copp, the Copp Lecture is hosted each year by the Faculty of Medicine and speakers are nominated by members of the faculty, and selected by the Copp Lecture committee.
Doctor D. Harold Copp, originally a student of the University of Toronto, earned his honours in medicine and the Faculty’s Gold medal in 1939. From there he went to Berkeley, to finish a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of California. In 1950, he came back to Canada when he was invited to become the first Head of the Department of Physiology at UBC’s newly founded Faculty of Medicine. From there he spent 30 years focused on researching hormones. In 1961, he discovered the hormone calcitonin, as it was involved in the regulation of the tone of calcim in body fluids. In 1969, he expanded upon his research when he took a team out to isolate, sequence and finally sythesize salmon calcitonin in the short span of three months. This salmon hormone was far more effective for human therapy than any found in pig or human thyroids. This eventually lead to calcitonin being used in the treatment of osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and for it to even be used as analgesic. By 1991, calcitonin exceeded $1 billion US in sales the world over, and was only exceeded in terms of sales by insulin. He eventually retired in May of 1980 and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for his outstanding medical contributions. However, before Doctor Copp’s retirement, his research curved towards comparing calcium regulation in lower vertebrates. This led to he and his colleagues isolating a calcium inhibiting hormone which he originally named teleocalcin, but was eventually renamed to stanniocalcin.
Doctor D. Harold Copp’s achievements were recognized many times throughout his life, receiving the Gairdner Award in 1967, the Flavelle Medal in 1972 and the Jacob Biely Research Prize in 1971. On top of all this, the Dr. Harold Copp Lectureship was announced in 1966 by the then president of the Medical Research Council, Doctor Henry Friesen, with an initial contribution of $25,000 that was matched by the Wolfe and Gita Churg Foundation.