Sir Frederick Grant Banting (1891-1941) Life Description Sir Frederick Grant Banting was a Canadian physician, physiologist, and Nobel winner in 1923 for the discovery of the hormone insulin, used in treating diabetes. Early Life Banting was born November 14, 1891, on a farm near Alliston, Ontario. The death of his friend made him having the desire to be a doctor. However, his father was a devoutly religious man, and hoped that Frederick would become minister. After he graduated from high school, the conflicts with his parents begun. His parents finally persuaded him to enrol in the liberal art course at Victoria College, Ontario. In 1910, he and his cousin Fred Hipwell began their studies at Victoria College.
However, Banting’s mind was still on medicine. After several arguments with his parents, he entered the University of Toronto Medical School in the fall of 1912. His cousin quoted, “He was a steady, industrious student. He had no top marks or even honor standing, but there never was any doubt that he would pass.” World War I While he was still in school, World War I started. In the spring of 1915, his name was enlisted in the Canadian Army. However, his commanding officer, arranged him for his education.
Hours after the successful completion of his final exams in December 1916, he was back in uniform. Within a few months, he was serving in the Canadian Army Hospital at Ramsgate, England. He then voluntarily transferred to the front line near Cambrai, France because he felt he was not doing enough. He used his intelligence to capture three fully armed Germans without any use of weapons! This earned a rank of the Captain. He kept working at the frontline.
On the morning of September 28, 1918, a shell burst close by and a piece of shrapnel buried itself in Banting’s right arm. It was so bad that a doctor informed him that they had to amputate his arm. However, he refused, He did an operation to himself. Even though it was a long, slow process, his arm finally did heal. After World War I By the time he was recovered, he went back to Toronto. He opened an office as a surgeon.
However, after 4 months, he only earned 14 dollars! Therefore, he transferred to University of Western Ontario as a teacher. Winning the Nobel Prize In the year 1921, he performed a major breakthrough of modern science–he had brought a dying victim of diabetes back to life. This discovery led him to win the 1923 Nobel Prize. Even though he could turn wealthy by patenting insulin, he chose to go back to University of Toronto, and made sure that public could have insulin injection cheap and easily. The world continued to honor and reward him. In 1934, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by King George V. The Death of Sir Banting Later in his life, he joined the army in World War II.
Aviation medicine became his favourite line of research. Shortly before his departure on a mission to Great Britain, he was uneasy and told his cousin Fred Hipwell that he was “a little bit afraid.” On February 21, 1941, the plane carrying Banting 50 miles out from Newfoundland airport, heading over the Atlantic Ocean. One of the engines sputtered and failed. It crashed while landing on the ground. Thousands mourned Banting’s passing.
He was buried as a soldier in a simple ceremony. The last words said over the flag- draped coffin were: “It is not given to everyone to die for his country, for freedom and justice, to die in the path of duty…Such was the earthly end of Frederick Grant Banting. Tragic? Yes, but also triumphant.” Discovery and Contribution The main discovery of Sir Banting of course was the insulin that could cure Diabetes Mellitus. What are Insulin and Diabetes Mellitus Insulin is a hormone that produces by the islets of Langerhans, which are the groups of cells in pancreas. Diabetes Mellitus would cause the entry of glucose impaired, a result either of a deficiency in the amount of insulin produced or of a blocking of its action.
The sugar builds up in the blood and is excreted in the urine. This would cause the body became extremely thirsty, weight is lost and feels very tired. Since the body is lack of glucose, it begins to break down the stored fat. The blood would become acidic and interfere with respiration. Usual outcome of this would be diabetic coma if it is not treated properly. During that time, in U.S., almost 300,000 people died of diabetes every year.
Therefore, the discovery of insulin was a really incredible contribution to the world. How did he discover it? At two o’clock in one morning during 1920, while he was struggling with his sleep, he got an idea about a diabetic dog:”Tie off pancreatic ducts of dogs. Wait six to eight weeks for degeneration. Remove the residue and extract.” However, he was only a resident in University, he had to ask the professor for permission. At that time, the chief professor J.J.R.Macleod didn’t his motive. All he gave Banting was eight weeks in a laboratory in an attic, ten dogs, and an assistant who knows how to measure the level of sugar and blood.
The assistant’s name was Charles M. Best. By May 1921, he started his experiment. He chloroformed the first dog. He opened the abdomen and tied off the pancreatic ducts with little loops of catgut, which would normally stop the flow of the juices. This should result a diabetic pancreas.
However, he failed this easiest part because the catgut had disintegrated, permitting the digestive juices to flow. However, that didn’t discourage him. The next time, he use the silk thread and tied several dogs in two or three places. Then he waited. By the time the waiting period was over, the eight weeks period was ended too.
Fortunately, Macleod was away in Scotland. However, he still had to sell all of his properties in order to have money to continue. Nine days later, they had completely removed the pancreas from a dog, which gave it a severe case of diabetes. It was not dead but it could not even hold its head up. He chloroformed this dog and another duct-blocked dog.
He removed the pancreas from the duct-blocked one and took the islet cells. He grounded it with sand, and mixed it with salt water. Then, he injected it into a vein of the dying dog. For the next minutes, Best, his assistant, kept taking samples of blood from the sick dog. After about an hour, Best shouted,”Her sugar is down.
It is almost normal!” This was a major discovery of modern science. They made a dying diabetic animal survive again. They named the islet cells isletin. However, the next day, the dog was dead. This meant the cells only brought a temporary drop in sugar level. However, it was not practical to kill healthy dogs to save the sicked one.
Therefore, they had to think of another way to obtain isletin. Banting got an idea from his early days experiment from the farm. The farmers always threw away the cows’ embryos, which was a resource to get the cells. They mixed the mixture of alcohol and acid, inserted it into the cows. It worked. The mixture destroyed the digestive juices that interfered with the isletin.
Now, they got enough isletin to continue their experiment. Finally, they had to prove the most important part. Would isletin be safe to human? Banting and Best inserted the isletin into each other, which resulted no negative reaction. Also, they tested it with a boy laid close to death. It made the boy having a daily gain in strength and health, as long as he kept on taking it.
By that time, Macleod returned. He began to turn all of his energies to support Banting. However, the first thing he did seem to be meaningless: changes isletin into insulin. Then he assigned several experts to support Banting. This helped Banting to perform his experiments more convenient and easier.
The news of discovery spreaded over the world. Again this earned him a Nobel Prize in 1923 and a honourable life until his death in 1941. Conclusion We should be proud with the contributions by Sir Frederick Grant Banting to this whole world. Without all his hard works, more people may have died because of diabetes. He also helped Canada to establish a good medication position in the world.