Monday, June 29, 2009

Frederick Banting

Frederick Banting
Frederick Banting received the Nobel Price for Medicine in 1923 for his discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. He was only thirty two year old.

The Nobel Price had only been introduced and awarded since 1901, and Banting was the first Canadian to receive one. As a result of his Nobel Price, he went from obscurity to world fame, from small town doctor to world renowned scientist and he became a national hero overnight.

The discovery of insulin was not vague esoteric or of questionable value to society. Its impact was clear, practical and immediate. There were literally millions of people all over the world who suffered from diabetes and who could previously only look forward to a life with a progressive, debilitating illness that usually led to an early death.

Frederick Banting was born in November 19, 1891 on a farm near Alliston, Ontario. He attended school in Alliston, where he had an average but undistinguished academic career but he excel at athleticism was good at art and was a hard working determined student.

After graduating from high school, Banting entered Divinity College to satisfy his parent’s wishes. He soon realized the medicine was his real interest and he transferred into the medical program.

When he graduated as a doctor in 1916, World War I was at its peak, and he felt compelled to do his part for his country. He enlisted on the Royal Canadian Army medial corps and was sent to Europe to work as a military surgeon in a rear field hospital.

After the war he served for a year as resident surgeon at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. But for a young doctor just out of the army, earning a decent living was practical necessity. So Banting opened a small practice in London, Ontario.

He also lectured at the Medical school of the University of Western Ontario, and conducted research in neurophysiology under Dr. F.R Miller.

One day while Banting was preparing a lecture in the pancreas he read a paper by Moses Barron in a medical journal. The article described changes that occurred in the pancreatic juice when the pancreatic duct was blocked by gallstone.

Banting was intrigued by the possibility that something that occurred in this process might hold the secret to diabetes – a disease that had distressed Banting since school days, when young classmate slowly wasted away from the disease before his eyes and finally died in her teens.

He had the idea but neither a lab nor funds for the necessary research. Banting arranged meeting with Dr. John MacLeod of the University of Toronto to use facilities in the university.

The first human patient treated with insulin was a fourteen year old boy with severe juvenile diabetes. His discovery was remarkable and immediate. Other patients followed with the same impressive results.
Frederick Banting

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