Born: 14 November 1891
Died: 21 February 1941 (airplane crash)
Birthplace: Alliston, Canada
Best known as: The Canadian doctor who discovered insulin
Dr. Frederick Grant Banting was a Canadian physician who discovered a way to isolate and extract insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes. Born in a farmhouse near Alliston, Ontario, Banting got his degree in medicine from Victoria College in Toronto. He served as a medical officer in France during World War I and returned home with a war wound and a Military Cross. He began his medical career in 1919 as a pediatrician in London, Ontario, and supplemented his income by lecturing at the University of Western Ontario. While researching for a lecture on the pancreas in 1920, he became interested in diabetes. Dr J. MacLeod, a physiologist from the University of Toronto, provided Banting with lab space and an assistant, Charles Best, and Banting and Best got to work experimenting on dogs. By the end of 1922 Banting and Best, with the help of biochemist J.B. Collip, had developed a way to produce commercial qualities of an anti-diabetic hormone they dubbed insulin. The next year the Nobel prize was awarded to MacLeod and Banting, the first Canadians to receive the award. The Canadian government established a research facility for Banting and granted him an annuity. During the 1930s he worked on cancer research, and when World War II began he again devoted himself to government service. He died on a medical mission to England in 1941 when his plane crashed in Newfoundland.
Banting, feeling his assistant had been neglected, split his portion of the Nobel money with Best… Banting was knighted in 1934… The farmhouse Banting was born in was outside Alliston, which is now called New Tecumseh… Banting and Best initially called their isolated hormone isletin, from the part of the pancreas known as the Islets of Langerhans. MacLeod insisted they use the term insulin, after the Latin for “island.”
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