Nobel Prize Recipient. Frederick Grant Banting received world-wide notoriety after being awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he received the coveted honor jointly sharing with Scottish physiologist, Dr. John James Richard MacLeod, “for the discovery of insulin." Of course, this was a life-changing medication for diabetic patients, who were dying with the complications of their chronic condition. Diabetes is the body's inability to metabolize sugar correctly, due to the fact the body is not producing in pancreatic cells, known as the Islets of Langerhans, the hormone called insulin. With four university professors from the United States and England, a Nobel Prize recipient, and an ophthalmologist, Bantling received six nominations for the Nobel Prize. Born the youngest of five children, he had planned to major in theology but changed to medicine at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1916. During World War I, he joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps. In 1918 he was wounded at the Battle of Cambrai, receiving in 1919 the Military Cross for heroism under fire. After the war, he returned to his medical studies. In 1919 he began to study orthopedic surgery. While holding a position as a resident orthopedic surgeon in Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, he became interested in the research of diabetes. He had read that two other researchers had removed the pancreas from a dog, resulting in diabetes; learned that a hormone controlled the metabolism of sugars; and had named the pancreatic hormone, yet they could not isolate the hormone. Besides Banting’s private practice, he taught part-time starting 1921 orthopedics at the University of Ontario at London and in 1922 was a lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto. He lacked the finances and time to do indepth researching. After receiving the funding with a laboratory from Professor MacLeod of the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto, he began to experiment with dogs. MacLeod assigned a young medical student, Charles Best, to assist Banting. Unlike the earlier researchers, they isolated the insulin. During experiments on July 30, 1921, the researchers used dog #410, which had diabetes from a removed pancreas. The dog was injected with isolated insulin and the dog’s blood sugar dropped. This experiment was repeated several times before notifying Dr. Macleod. That fall he and Best drafted their first paper, "The Internal Secretion of the Pancreas," and on November 14, 1921 presented their findings at a meeting of the Journal Club of the Physiological Society of the University of Toronto. He and MacLeod along with Best traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to present the results at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society. On January 11, 1922 the first patient, a fourteen-year-old diabetic in a Toronto hospital, was injected with insulin. After months of stabilizing the insulin, the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company, started mass production. Although Macleod funded the research project, he had no actual hands-on in the original research, causing Banting to become angry that Best had been overlooked for a Nobel Prize, thus gifted part of his monitory prize to his colleague, Charles Best. Being that Best was a 22-year-old medical student at the time of the research may impacted the Nobel Prize as no one nominated him for the award. As of 2020, Banting at the age of 32 is the youngest Nobel Prize recipient in the category of Physiology and Medicine. In 1922 he received his MD degree with honors of a Gold Medal. Besides the Nobel Prize, he shared with Professor Macleod the Reeve Prize of the University of Toronto in 1922. The same year, Banting was appointed Senior Demonstrator in Medicine at the University of Toronto, and in 1923 he was elected to the Banting and Best Chair of Medical Research, which had been endowed by the Legislature of the Province of Ontario. In addition to his medical degree, Banting received seven honorary degrees. In 1923, the Canadian Parliament granted him a Life Annuity of $7,500. In 1928 Banting gave the Cameron Lecture in Edinburgh. In 1930 the Banting and Best Institute became the center of medical research of the University of Toronto, a place where not only diabetes is being studied but brain damage from the lack of oxygen, heart transplants, cancer, and other conditions and staffed with full-time researchers. He was appointed a member of numerous medical academies and societies in his country and abroad, including the British and American Physiological Societies, and the American Pharmacological Society. He was knighted in 1934. He married twice and had a son with his first wife. As an avid artist, Banting took part of a painting expedition above the Arctic Circle, sponsored by the Canadian Government. During World War II, he served as a liaison officer between the British and North American medical services. While on a military mission, he was killed in an airplane crash disaster in Newfoundland, Canada.
Bio by: Linda Davis