1994 INDUCTEE Douglas Harold Copp, MD Hormones, Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints


January 16, 1915

(Toronto, Ontario)


March 17, 1998


MD, University of Toronto (1939)
PhD, University of California (1943)

Awards & Honours:

2000: Laureate of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame

1980: Companion of the Order of Canada

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Picture of Douglas Harold Copp, MD

Discovered the hormone calcitonin

Portrait of Douglas Harold Copp

A leading expert in the field of bone and calcium metabolism

Dr. Douglas Copp was no ordinary physician – his career is marked with academic excellence, a top-secret government project, and establishing new endocrine function of the thyroid gland. Dr. Copp’s research focused on his interest in bone physiology for which he conducted experiments relating to calcium homeostasis in the body. With these experiments, he discovered calcitonin, a hormone that regulates the level of calcium in the blood by inhibiting its release from the bones.

Key Facts

Was an esteemed researcher and mentor to many students

Demonstrated the severe consequences of radiation and offered cautious warnings around its use

Improved the treatment of bone disease

Served as President of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada

Served as President of the Canadian Physiological Society and the National Cancer Institute of Canada

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Dr. Copp was an outstanding scientist, leaving behind a remarkable legacy as a Canadian physician. His discoveries have significant clinical implications as calcitonin is widely used for the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease and hypercalcemia.

Douglas Harold Copp, MD


  • Douglas Copp inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • Retired from the University of British Columbia

    His commitment to scientific advancement remained strong and he maintained his laboratory at UBC until 1993.

  • Following his initial discovery of calcitonin, Dr. Douglas Copp was associated with isolating pure salmon calcitonin

    Hormones, Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints, Hormones

    He demonstrated that the salmon variation of the hormone is more potent and longer acting than human calcitonin, proving it to be the most effective form for human therapy.

  • Douglas Harold Copp discovered the hormone calcitonin

    Hormones, Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints

    The discovery of this hormone significantly contributed to the treatment of bone disease.

  • Invited to the newly found University of British Columbia medical school, where he became the first head of the Department of Physiology

    He spent the next 30 years establishing a respectable reputation for the university’s Faculty of Medicine by focusing his research on hormones.

  • Upon earning his PhD, Harold Copp’s qualities as a researcher made him a choice recruit for the secret “Manhattan Project”, which developed the first atomic bomb

    Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints

    As part of the project, Copp was among the first to study the metabolism of bone-seeking nuclear fission products and its negative effect on bone marrow.

  • Achieved an early reputation for brilliance, earning the Faculty Gold Medal with his honours in medicine from University of Toronto

    He then went to the University of California at Berkeley to complete a PhD in Biochemistry.


He achieved an early reputation for brilliance.