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Sir Frederick Grant Banting

Born November 14, 1891(1891-11-14)
Alliston, Ontario, Canada
Died February 21, 1941 (aged 49)
Newfoundland, now part of Canada
Nationality Canada
Alma mater University of Toronto
Known for Discovery of insulin
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1923)

Sir Frederick Grant Banting, KBE, MC, FRSC (November 14, 1891 – February 21, 1941) was a Canadian medical scientist, doctor and Nobel laureate noted as one of the co-discoverers of insulin.

In 1923 Banting and John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Banting shared the award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best. The Canadian government gave him a lifetime annuity to work on his research. In 1934 King George V bestowed a knighthood on him, making him Sir Frederick Banting.

In 2004, Frederick Banting was voted 4th place on the The Greatest Canadian.


Early years

Frederick Grant Banting was born on 14 November 1891, in Alliston, Ontario. He was the youngest of five children of William Thompson Banting and Margaret (née Grant). Educated at the Public and High Schools at Alliston, he later went to the University of Toronto to study divinity, but soon transferred to the study of medicine. In 1916 he took his M.B. degree and at once joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and served, during the First World War, in France. In 1918 he was wounded at the battle of Cambrai and in 1919 he was awarded the Military Cross for heroism under fire. When the war ended in 1919, Banting returned to Canada and was for a short time a medical practitioner in London, Ontario. He studied orthopaedic medicine and was, during the year 1919-1920, Resident Surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. From 1920 until 1921 he did part-time teaching in orthopaedics and Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario at London, Canada, besides his general practice, and from 1921 until 1922 he was Lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto. In 1922 he was awarded his M.D. degree, together with a gold medal.

Scientific work

Banting had become deeply interested in diabetes. The work of Naunyn, Minkowski, Opie, Schafer, and others had indicated that diabetes was caused by lack of a protein hormone secreted by the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. To this hormone Schafer had given the name insulin, and it was supposed that insulin controls the metabolism of sugar, so that lack of it results in the accumulation of sugar in the blood and the excretion of the excess of sugar in the urine. Attempts to supply the missing insulin by feeding patients with fresh pancreas, or extracts of it, had failed, presumably because the protein insulin in these had been destroyed by the proteolytic enzyme of the pancreas. The problem, therefore, was how to extract insulin from the pancreas before it had been thus destroyed.

While he was considering this problem, Banting read in a medical journal an article by Moses Baron, which pointed out that, when the pancreatic duct was experimentally closed by ligatures, the cells of the pancreas which secrete trypsin degenerate, but that the Islets of Langerhans remain intact. This suggested to Banting the idea that ligation of the pancreatic duct would, by destroying the cells which secrete trypsin, avoid the destruction of the insulin, so that, after sufficient time had been allowed for the degeneration of the trypsin-secreting cells, insulin might be extracted from the intact Islets of Langerhans.

Determined to investigate this possibility, Banting discussed it with various people, among whom was J. J. R. Macleod, Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto, and Macleod gave him facilities for experimental work upon it. Dr. Charles Best, then a medical student, was appointed as Banting's assistant, and together, Banting and Best started the work which was to lead to the discovery of insulin.

In 1922 Banting had been 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. He was also appointed Honorary Consulting Physician to the Toronto General Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the Toronto Western Hospital. In the Banting and Best Institute, Banting dealt with the problems of silicosis, cancer, the mechanism of drowning and how to counteract it. During the Second World War he became greatly interested in problems connected with flying (such as blackout).

In addition to his medical degree, Banting also obtained, in 1923, the LL.D. degree (Queens) and the D.Sc. degree (Toronto). Prior to the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1923, which he shared with Macleod, he received the Reeve Prize of the University of Toronto (1922). In 1923, the Canadian Parliament granted him a Life Annuity of $7,500. In 1928 Banting gave the Cameron Lecture in Edinburgh. He was appointed 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.

As a keen painter, Banting once took part of a painting expedition above the Arctic Circle, sponsored by the Government.

Banting married Marion Robertson in 1924; they had one child, William (b. 1928). This marriage ended in a divorce in 1932, and in 1937 Banting married Henrietta Ball.

In 1938 Banting developed an interest in aviation medicine that resulted in his participation with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in research concerning the physiological problems encountered by pilots operating high-altitude combat aircraft. Banting headed the Number 1 Clinical Investigation Unit (CIU) of the RCAF, housed in a secret facility on the grounds of the former Eglinton Hunt Club in Toronto. In February 1941, Banting was killed in an air crash in Newfoundland while en route to England to conduct operational tests on the Franks flying suit developed by his colleague Wilbur Franks.


An oil painting of Sir Frederick Banting in 1925 by Tibor Polya, now in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery of Canada

Banting's name is immortalised in the yearly Banting Lectures, given by an expert in diabetes and by the creation of Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, ON; Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, ON; Sir Frederick Banting Alternative Program Site in Ottawa, ON; and École Banting Middle School in Coquitlam, BC. The Banting Interpretation Centre in Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador is a museum named after him which focuses on the circumstances surrounding the 1941 plane crash which claimed his life. The crater Banting on the Moon is also named after him.

In 1994 Banting was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was nominated as one of the top 10 "Greatest Canadians" by viewers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. When the final votes were counted, Banting finished fourth behind Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox and Pierre Trudeau.

During the voting for "Greatest Canadians" in late 2003, controversy rose over the future use of the Banting family farm in New Tecumseth which had been left to the Ontario Historical Society by Banting's late nephew, Edward, in 1998. The dispute centred around the future use of the 40 ha (100 acre) property and its buildings. In a year-long negotiation, assisted by a provincially-appointed facilitator, the Town of New Tecumseth offered $1 million to the OHS. The town intended to turn the property over to the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation for preservation of the property and buildings, and the Legacy Foundation planned to erect a Camp for Diabetic Youths. The day after the November 22, 2006 deadline for the OHS to sign the agreement, the OHS announced that it had sold the property for housing development to Solmar Development for more than 2 million. Solmar reported in the press that their deal with the OHS had been arranged five months earlier. The Town of New Tecumseth announced it would designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act. This would prevent its commercial development and obligate the owner to maintain it properly. OHS objected. The Ontario Conservation Review Board heard arguments for and against designation in September, 2007 and recommended designation of the entire 100-acre (0.40 km2) property in October. The Town officially passed the designation by-law on November 12, 2007.

In January, 2007, cross-Canada survey by the CBC to identify the 10 Greatest Canadian Inventions, Insulin topped the list in first place.[1]

A painting of his called St. Tîte des Cap sold for $30,000 (cdn) including buyer's premium at a Canadian Art auction in Toronto.[2]

Banting was a relative of William Banting, the discoverer of the first effective low-carbohydrate diet used in weight control.

He appeares in the 2006 historical drama film "Above and Beyond" before going onboard his fatal flight.

Honorary Degrees

Sir Frederick Banting received Honorary Degrees from several Universities:


See also


External links

Further reading

  • The Discovery of Insulin by Michael Bliss, University of Chicago Press, 1982, ISBN 0-226-05897-2.
  • Banting as an Artist by A.Y. Jackson, Ryerson Press, 1943.
  • Discoverer of Insulin - Dr. Frederick G. Banting by I.E. Levine, New York: Julian Messner, 1962.
  • Frederick Banting by Margaret Mason Shaw, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1976, ISBN 0-889-02229-1.
  • Sir Frederick Banting by Lloyd Stevenson, Ryerson Press, 1946.
  • Banting's miracle; the story of the discoverer of insulin by Seale Harris, Lippincott, 1946.
  • Elixir by Eric Walters, Puffin Canada, 2005, ISBN 0-143-01641-5.
  • Raju, T N (October 1998). "The Nobel Chronicles. 1923: Frederick G Banting (1891-1941), John J R Macleod (1876-1935)". Lancet (ENGLAND) 352 (9138): 1482. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 9808029. 
  • Hudson, R P. "New light on the insulin controversey (Frederick G. Banting and J. J. R. Macleod)". Ann. Intern. Med. (UNITED STATES) 91 (2): 311. ISSN 0003-4819. PMID 380438. 
  • Fletcher, Katharine (June 2007). "Sir Frederick Banting homestead sold to developer, family outraged". CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne (Canada) 176 (12): 1691–2. doi:10.1503/cmaj.070613. PMID 17548378. 
  • Shampo, Marc A; Kyle Robert A (May. 2005). "Frederick Banting--Nobel laureate for discovery of insulin". Mayo Clin. Proc. (United States) 80 (5): 576. doi:10.4065/80.5.576. PMID 15887423. 
  • MacLeod, Jana B A (July 2006). "Frederick G. Banting: Giving prospects for life from the past to the new millennium". Archives of surgery (Chicago, Ill. : 1960) (United States) 141 (7): 705–7. doi:10.1001/archsurg.141.7.705. PMID 16847245. 
  • Elliot, Joanne C. "Banting--a Nobel artist". Med. J. Aust. (Australia) 181 (11-12): 631. ISSN 0025-729X. PMID 15588191. 
  • TODHUNTER, E N (November 1953). "Frederick G. Banting, November 14, 1891-February 22, 1941". Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Not Available) 29 (11): 1093. ISSN 0002-8223. PMID 13108539. 
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Earl of Birkenhead
Cover of Time Magazine
27 August 1923
Succeeded by
David Lloyd George

Simple English

Frederick Banting
Frederick Banting
BornNovember 14, 1891
Alliston, Ontario, Canada
DiedFebruary 21, 1941
InstitutionsUniversity of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Known forInsulin
Notable prizesNobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1923)

Frederick Grant Banting (November 14, 1891 - February 21, 1941) was a Canadian doctor.[1] He won the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with John James Richard Macleod, for the discovery of insulin.[2]



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