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Banting House

Banting House
Plaque no. 5
Date of plaque unveiling
30 October 1970
The original plaque had a date of October 30, 1920 for Banting's discovery of insulin. A new plaque with the corrected date of October 31 was unveiled on October 31, 2000.
Speakers
Dr. W.P. Tew (1970) and Grant Maltman (2000)
Location
442 Adelaide Street North, London, Ontario

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History

The son of a Methodist farmer, Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891, in Alliston, Ontario. He developed an interest in diabetes at a young age after witnessing a friend’s lingering death from the disease.

In 1916, Banting received his medical degree from the University of Toronto. He then served as a doctor during the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross for tending patients in the field, while himself wounded.

Upon returning to Canada, Banting moved to London and opened a small practice at 442 Adelaide Street while continuing to study diabetes. In October 1920, he was asked to lecture at Western University’s Medical School on the subject of the pancreas.

On the night of October 30, he had gone to bed thinking about pancreatic spots which he had been investigating. At 2:30 a.m. he got up and wrote, “Ligate pancreatic ducts of dogs. Wait 6 - 8 weeks.... Remove residue and extract.” 

He appealed unsuccessfully to the Western University of London, Ontario to grant him research facilities, but obtained a lab and an assistant, Dr. Charles H. Best, at the University of Toronto.

After much research, on July 30, 1921, Banting achieved a medical breakthrough by bringing a dog out of a diabetic coma with his pancreatic extract, insulin. On July 11, 1922, it was first used on a person with diabetes, resuscitating him from near death to health. Insulin became a universal treatment for diabetes.

Sir Frederick Banting, who won the Nobel Prize in 1923 and received more honours than any Canadian before him, remained extremely humble, giving away much of his prize money to research.

During the Second World War, he was involved in many areas of research including cancer, seasickness, and silicosis. In 1941 Banting died in an airplane crash in Newfoundland while on his way to Britain.