Frederick Banting…the discoverer of insulin and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine Encyclopedia

Frederick Banting, physician, artist, researcher, and Canadian military officer. Born in 1891, he discovered insulin in 1921 after a close friend died of diabetes.

This invention earned him international fame, for which he received many honors and awards, and in 1923 he became Canada’s first and youngest Nobel laureate in medicine and medicine, together with John James Richard Macleod. Physiology Prize Winner (32 years old).

birth and growth

Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891 in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, a city with a cool and rainy climate all year round and a large area of ​​agricultural land.

Bunting was the youngest of five children of his father, William Thompson Bunting, and his mother, Margaret Grant. He has been fond of painting since he was a child, and he also practiced medicine as a hobby. He was one of the most famous doctors in Canada in the 19th century, which allowed him to obtain memberships in several medical associations and institutions at home and abroad.

Charles Best and Frederick Banting (right) in the 1920s (Getty Images)

Banting served in the Canadian Medical Corps during World War I, serving his country on the front lines and suffering physical injuries as a result of his participation in the war.

Frederick Banting married twice in his life. His first marriage was to Maron Robertson in 1924, with whom he had a son, William. In 1928 they separated. He married a second time, Henlaita Paul, in 1932, but they never married. have kids.

Scientific training, practical life

Banting was educated at Alliston’s public schools. When World War I was declared on 4 August 1914, Frederick attempted to enlist directly into the Canadian Army the next day, but his application was rejected due to poor eyesight. reject.

After obtaining an advanced degree in medicine and completing most of his training, he joined the Canadian Army Medical Service and enlisted in the spring of 1915, as the Canadian Army was in need of medical personnel during the war.

At the time, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine had a special curriculum designed for Banting’s class of 1917, as the fifth year was compressed into a special semester in the summer and fall to participate in the war effort. The country is going through.

After discovering the drug insulin, Frederick Banting became a popular hero and the most famous Canadian of the 1920s (Getty)

During this particular semester, Banting graduated with a bachelor’s degree in medical studies on December 9, 1916, and reported for service the next morning.

Banting initially worked in a hospital before being sent to the Army front line in June 1918 as a battalion medical officer. In late September of that year, Banting was wounded at the Battle of Cambrai in Belgium, but this did not stop him from completing his mission. He served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and continued to treat patients until he was replaced by another doctor.

The Belgian city of Cambrai was one of the cities occupied by the British army during World War I. The Battle of Cambrai was the first battle in history in which tanks were successfully used.

Frederick Banting’s injuries, although not serious, took a long time to heal, forcing him to remain in hospital until December 4, 1918, more than three weeks after the end of the war, after which he Only then returned to resume work. He worked first in England, then was discharged from the army and spent another year in Toronto to complete his surgical training at the Children’s Hospital.

Banting gained fame after discovering insulin (Getty)

In 1920, after completing his duties as a surgeon, Banting began his own medical career as a physician and surgeon, and in the fall of that year decided to leave Toronto for London, Ontario, where many patient deaths and lack of funds prompted him to practice in London, Canada Adjunct Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Western Ontario.

On the evening of October 31, 1920, while transcribing an article written by physician and surgeon Moses Baron for a lecture on the pancreas, Banting had an “idea” that would not only change his life , and will change the lives of countless patients around us. world.

The first experiment to discover insulin

After serving as a doctor during World War I, Banting became interested in diabetes and remained focused on the possibility of using secretions from within the pancreas to help diabetics regulate blood sugar levels.

Because these people are unable to metabolize carbohydrates, their blood sugar levels can rise to life-threatening levels.

Frederick Banting was so enthusiastic about his idea that he talked to Professor Macleod, a professor of physiology at the University of Toronto. Professor Macleod was interested in the young Banting’s hypotheses, but he was initially reluctant to give him carte blanche. To a complete stranger at the time. , until the professor finally gave in to Dr. Banting’s insistence, and he was not allowed to conduct research in his laboratory.

In May 1921, with the help of medical student Charles Best, Frederick Banting began experiments that led to the first discovery of the drug insulin. The two researchers intensified their experiments on dogs, and their first results were described as disastrous, as they resulted in the death of most of the dogs. Animals during intervention.

On August 1, 1921, the first injection of pancreatic extract into a diabetic dog stabilized blood sugar levels. With the help of biochemist James Collip, the team was able to isolate increasingly purer and more potent pancreatic extracts.

On January 11, 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson, a diabetic, was registered as the first diabetic patient in history to be treated with pancreatic extract within days of his arrival at a Toronto hospital. . He was in critical condition at the hospital and nearly took his life.

As a result of this achievement, Frederick Banting immediately gained great international fame and, according to the same media source, he received a $1 million prize to purchase the rights to the discovery, but on humanitarian grounds rather than Financial Motives, Banting In October 1922, Charles Best chose to transfer the copyright to the University of Toronto for the token sum of one dollar.

Working with MacLeod, Banting became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, was knighted in 1934, and is considered one of the most important figures in Canadian and world history.

(File Photo) In this file photo taken on October 12, 2015, insulin pens are produced at the U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly's factory in Fegelsheim, eastern France.  - Eli Lilly announced on March 1, 2023 that it will cut the cost of its most commonly prescribed insulin by 70% after years of price spikes affecting millions of Americans with diabetes. "Eli Lilly is taking these actions to make Eli Lilly's insulin more accessible to Americans to help those who may face difficulties navigating a complex health care system that may prevent them from getting affordable insulin," the Indianapolis-based drugmaker said in a statement.  (Photo by Frederic Florin/AFP)
Eli Lilly and Company (France) plant produces insulin pens

insulin development

In 1923, news of the discovery of insulin spread like wildfire, and soon after, the medical company Eli Lilly began mass-producing insulin. Before long, enough insulin was produced to supply the entire North American continent. Over the next few decades, manufacturers developed several slow-acting insulins, the first of which was produced by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in 1936.

Extracting insulin from cows and pigs as a treatment for diabetes has saved millions of lives over the years, but the results were less than ideal as it caused complications and allergies in some patients, so the first genetically modified “human” “Insulin was introduced. 1978 Production using E. coli.

In 1982, Eli Lilly and Company marketed the first commercially available synthetic human insulin under the brand name Humulin. Today, insulin comes in many forms, from regular human insulin, which is similar to the body’s own production, to ultra-fast, long-acting insulin.

After decades of research, people with diabetes can now choose from a variety of insulin formulations and delivery methods based on their personal needs and lifestyle, from Humulin to Novolog, and from insulin pens to insulin pumps.

Other research

After discovering the drug insulin, Frederick Banting became a popular hero and the most famous Canadian of the 1920s. Expectations that he would invent drugs to defeat other diseases weighed heavily on the Canadian researcher as he struggled to prove his discovery. The advent of insulin was not just a coincidence.

After his collaboration with Charles Best ended, Banting devoted his research to finding drugs to treat cancer. He conducted some strange tests, such as his experiments with royal jelly (a substance secreted by bees). Attempts were also made to work on the revival of the drowned, but these efforts were not successful.

While supervising a group of young scientists in the University of Toronto’s Department of Medical Research, Banting assisted scientist Lopez-Franks, who invented anti-gravity suits that helped pilots stay alert when affected by gravity. His team has also done useful work on silicosis, an occupational lung disease, and other issues.

By the late 1930s, Frederick Banting’s reputation and passion for research had made him an experienced leader of Canada’s medical research efforts. With the onset of World War II, Banting developed a keen interest in related medical issues, effectively launching Canada’s first research effort into aviation medicine and issues. Related to chemical and bacteriological weapons.

At the beginning of World War II, Frederick Banting became the main liaison officer between Canadian and British researchers, so he decided to travel to Britain again in February 1941 on a Hudson plane flying from Newfoundland to England.

Frederick Banting shared the 1923 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology with his partner (Getty)

Awards and Achievements

Throughout his career filled with research and discovery, Frederick Banting received multiple awards and honors for his achievements that changed the lives of many patients around the world. He received:

  • Medical professional certificate.
  • In 1924 he received honorary doctorates from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University at Kingston, the University of Michigan, and Yale University (honors awarded to these universities in the same year).
  • He received an honorary doctorate from McGill University in Montreal in 1931 and a doctorate from the University of Quebec in 1939.
  • In 1934, he was awarded a Knighthood of the Order of the British Empire by the Royal Society.
  • In 1935, he was elected as a member of the Royal Society.
  • The Military Cross, awarded by the Canadian Army in recognition of heroism during World War I, is a third-class military decoration awarded to officers.
  • In 1923, John James Richard MacLeod helped him discover insulin and won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.
  • Banting was also a member of many medical schools and societies in Canada and abroad, including the British and American Physiological Societies and the American Pharmaceutical Association.


On February 21, 1941, Frederick Banting was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed near Musgrave Harbor, Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast while en route to England during World War II. The plane crashed near a pond in Newfoundland, and Frederick Banting was fatally injured and died before help could arrive.

Another story states that when the plane suffered engine failure, the plane struck a tree before crashing, resulting in Banting’s death the next day.

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