(1891-1941) Canadian physician who discovered a technique for isolating the hormone insulin 1921 when he and his colleague Charles Best tied off the ducts of the pancreas to determine the function of the cells known as the islets of Langerhans. This made possible the treatment of diabetes. Banting and John J R Macleod (1876–1935), his mentor, shared the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and Banting divided his prize with Best.
Banting was born in Alliston, Ontario, and studied medicine at the University of Toronto, where from 1921 he carried out research into diabetes. It had been suggested that insulin might be concerned in glucose metabolism and that its source might be the islets of Langerhans. Banting reasoned that if the pancreas were destroyed but the islets of Langerhans were retained, the absence of digestive enzymes would allow them to isolate insulin. With Charles Best, one of his undergraduate students, he experimented on dogs. Next, he obtained fetal pancreatic material from an abattoir. Eventually reasonably pure insulin was produced and commercial production of the hormone started.