Sir Frederick G. Banting (1891-1941)
was born in Alliston, Ontario as the youngest of five children to William Thompson Banting and Margaret Grant. Dr. Banting attended the University of Toronto where he planned on studying divinity, but soon transferred to the faculty of medicine, where he earned his medical degree in 1916. He immediately joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps, serving in France during the First World War. In 1918, while stationed in France, Dr. Banting sustained a wound to his right arm by a shell at the Battle of Cambrai. Despite his injury, he continued to tend to casualties for another 16 hours, earning him a Military Cross for heroism under fire, which he was presented with in 1919. After the war, Dr. Banting returned to Canada, practicing general medicine in London, Ontario. He also taught orthopaedics and anthropology at Western University. It was while Dr. Banting was practicing in London that he conceived the idea to extract insulin from the pancreas, thus being able to treat diabetes. He continued his research into diabetes at the University of Toronto, where he worked with colleague J.J.R. Macleod, and medical student Charles H. Best. The trio’s research led to the discovery of a treatment for diabetes patients, earning Dr. Banting and Macleod the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
Dr. Banting remains the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Among his many other accolades, Dr. Banting was part of the last group of Canadians knighted by King George V in 1934. Outside of his research, Dr. Banting had a wide interest in the arts and was himself an accomplished artist. As a member of the Arts & Letters Club, he was a friend of the Group of Seven artists, and on a number of occasions shared painting expeditions with A.Y. Jackson. In 1941, in the midst of another world war, he was on his way to England to participate in aviation medical research during World War II when he died in a plane crash in Newfoundland.