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The Miracle Of Frederick Banting & Charles Best

The Miracle Of Frederick Banting & Charles Best

Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best are best known for their pioneering work in the discovery of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Their collaboration in the early 1920s had a profound impact on the treatment of diabetes.

Frederick Banting was a Canadian physician, and Charles Best was a medical student at the University of Toronto at the time. Banting had the initial idea that the pancreas played a critical role in diabetes and that if he could isolate the hormone secreted by the pancreas, it could potentially be used to treat diabetes.

The Miracle Of Frederick Banting & Charles Best
The Miracle Of Frederick Banting & Charles Best Image: Courtesy of Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto Nouriel Gino Yazdinian

Frederick Grant Banting was born on November 14, 1891, in Alliston, Ontario, Canada. He came from a modest farming family and grew up in rural Ontario. Banting attended a one-room schoolhouse and later attended high school in Alliston. After high school, he worked various jobs, including teaching, before pursuing a career in medicine. Banting’s family faced financial struggles, and his background influenced his strong work ethic and determination to succeed in the field of medicine.

Charles Herbert Best was born on February 27, 1899, in West Pembroke, Maine, USA. Best’s family moved to Toronto, Canada, when he was a child, so he grew up in Toronto. He came from a more stable and urban background than Banting, as his father was a physician, and his family was better off economically. Best attended the University of Toronto, where he began his studies in physiology.

Despite their different upbringings, Banting and Best would eventually cross paths at the University of Toronto and collaborate on the groundbreaking work that led to the discovery of insulin. Their different backgrounds and experiences likely contributed to the diverse perspectives and skills they brought to their research partnership.

In 1921, with the help of Best as his laboratory assistant, Banting carried out experiments in the lab of J.J.R. Macleod at the University of Toronto. They used a procedure to extract the hormone insulin from the pancreases of dogs and successfully demonstrated its ability to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs.

Banting and Best visited the Toronto General Hospital in 1922, where wards containing 50 or more children with diabetes were maintained. The majority of them had diabetic ketoacidosis and were in a vegetative state.

These kids were practically on their deathbeds, waiting for what at the moment was a certain end. With haste, the scientists injected the kids with a freshly extracted, refined form of insulin.

The first child to be shot started to wake up as they started to inject the final unconscious child. The kids came out of their diabetic comas one by one. Suddenly, a room full with death and misery turned into one filled with happiness and hope.

Their groundbreaking work laid the foundation for the development of insulin therapy, which soon became a life-saving treatment for people with diabetes. In 1923, Banting and Macleod were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery, although there was some controversy surrounding the allocation of credit to Charles Best and John Macleod.

Banting and Best’s work remains one of the most significant advancements in the history of medicine, and their discovery has had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of millions of people with diabetes worldwide.

Banting and Best sold the patent for insulin to the University of Toronto for just one dollar. They believed that insulin was a life-saving discovery that should be made widely available to all people who needed it, rather than being used for personal profit.

In 1923, when they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of insulin, Banting and Best decided to use their share of the prize money to continue their research and help fund the development of insulin. They were committed to ensuring that insulin would be accessible to everyone who required it, especially individuals suffering from diabetes.

The decision to sell the patent for such a symbolic amount demonstrated their dedication to the well-being of people with diabetes and their desire to prevent the exploitation of a life-saving medication for financial gain. This decision had a lasting impact on the accessibility and affordability of insulin treatment for diabetes.

Banting and Best were driven by a sense of purpose and a commitment to improving the lives of people with diabetes. Their dedication to finding a life-saving treatment for diabetes is a testament to the power of a clear and noble mission. The partnership between Banting, a physician, and Best, a medical student, exemplifies the importance of collaboration and diversity in skill sets. Their different backgrounds and perspectives complemented each other, leading to a successful outcome.

Banting and Best’s decision to sell the insulin patent for one dollar demonstrated a commitment to ethical leadership. They prioritized the well-being of patients over personal financial gain, setting an example of integrity and altruism. The discovery of insulin faced numerous challenges and setbacks.

The legacy of Banting and Best’s leadership is the millions of lives saved and improved through the discovery of insulin. This underscores the potential of leadership to create profound positive change in society. Banting’s idea to isolate insulin and his willingness to explore new methods and techniques were crucial to the discovery. Their work illustrates the importance of innovation, curiosity, and a willingness to challenge established norms in leadership.

Banting and Best remained humble despite their groundbreaking achievement. Their willingness to share credit and recognition with their colleagues and team members reflects the importance of humility in leadership. The leadership of Banting and Best in the discovery of insulin teaches us about the importance of a noble cause, collaboration, ethics, perseverance, societal impact, innovation, and selflessness. Their story continues to inspire generations of leaders in various fields to make a positive difference in the world.

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