A Science Odyssey
People and Discoveries

Frederick Banting
1891 - 1941

Frederick Banting began his studies at the University of Toronto with the aim of entering the ministry, but instead he switched to medicine, receiving his MD in 1916. After graduating, he joined the army and served as a medical officer during World War I. He was awarded the Canadian military cross for bravery, attending wounded soldiers even while he himself was wounded. After the war, he practiced medicine in London, Ontario, until 1921, when he and Charles Best began their research into the hormone insulin.

The work progressed rapidly from basic research to clinical application and Banting, along with John J.R. Macleod, head of the physiology department at the University of Toronto, were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology in 1923. They were the first Canadians to ever receive that honor. Banting initially threatened to refuse the award because he felt Charles Best's work as research assistant had been vital to the project and that he should be included in the honor. Ultimately Banting accepted, and shared his portion of the prize with Best. Later Banting was named head of a new department of medical research at the University of Toronto, named after him and Charles Best. He became Sir Frederick Banting when he was knighted in 1934. On February 21, 1941, Banting was killed in a plane crash while on a military medical mission in Newfoundland.

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