A Science Odyssey
People and Discoveries

Charles Best
1899 - 1978

Charles Herbert Best was born in Maine, the son of a physician. He joined the Canadian artillery during World War I, and thus qualified for Canadian citizenship.

Best was still a medical student at the University of Toronto when he joined Frederick Banting in his work to isolate the pancreatic hormone insulin and apply it to the treatment of diabetes. The work had personal significance for Best, as his favorite aunt had recently died of the disease. He finished his medical degree in 1925, two years after Banting and physiology professor J.J. Macleod received the Nobel Prize for the work. Banting, who felt that Best should have been recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as well, gave half of his monetary award to Best. Macleod then shared his with J.B. Collip, the chemist who had worked with them to purify insulin for clinical trials.

After continuing his studies in Canada, the United States, and Europe, Best returned to the University of Toronto in 1929 to become the head of the physiology department. He became director of the Banting-Best Department of Medicine Research after Banting's death in 1941.

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