Diabetes is a chronic disorder in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is an important hormone for the metabolism of sugar in the body. When the pancreas fails to provide the body with insulin, these sugar build up in the blood stream. Therefore, the body can’t use the food energy ingested each day. Diabetes and complications may cause blindness, cardiac deficits, renal failure, non-injury related amputations and erectile dysfunction.
Frederick Grant Banting was born November 14, 1891 in Alliston, Ontario. When he grew up, he 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. After the war, he practiced medicine in London, Ontario, until 1921, when he and Charles Best began their research into the hormone insulin.
Banting, along with John J.R. Macleod, head of the physiology department at the University of Toronto, experiment with dogs in the discovery of insulin, finally in 1922 they succeed in discovering insulin. (The extract was then purified further and tested in a human on January 11, 1922.) They 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 he ad 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 Canada. Many people with diabetes now rely on daily insulin injections to survive.