Copp, Douglas Harold, 1915-

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Copp, Douglas Harold, 1915-

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Harold Copp was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 16, 1915 to parents Charles and Edith (O'Hara) Copp. After beginning post-secondary studies in physics and chemistry at the University of Toronto, his family was struck by tragedy when his older brother was killed by a burglar in the family home. Copp, decided to pursue the same subject his brother had been studying before his death, and transferred his interests to medicine. He completed both an MD (University of Toronto) and a doctorate in biochemistry (University of California at Berkeley). After graduating in 1943, Copp was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project, where he and his team focused on the impact of radiation on bone marrow in humans. He remained at Berkeley as an instructor after the end of World War II, maintaining his interest in bone metabolism. Copp returned to Canada in 1950, joining the faculty of the University of British Columbia as the first Head of the Department of Physiology. In 1961, he discovered a previously unrecognized hormone that aided in calcium regulation, which he called Calcitonin. It is this discovery that he is most well known for, and Calcitonin quickly become important in the treatment of osteoporosis, Paget's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and hypercalcaemia. Although officially retiring in 1980, he maintained his laboratory at UBC until 1993. Copp received many honours and awards for his achievements throughout the years. Examples include the Jacob Biely Research Prize, the Gairdner Award, the Flavelle medal, and honourary doctorates from Acadia University, the University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Queen's University and UBC. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Canada, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was inducted as a charter member into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1994, and was also posthumously inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2000. In addition, Copp held many professional offices, including that of President of the Canadian Physiological Society, President of the Faculty Association of UBC, President of the National Cancer Institute of Canada, and President of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada. Harold Copp married Winnifred Thompson on July 15, 1939 and over the years the couple had three daughters, Mary, Carolyn and Pat. He died on March 17, 1998.


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