home in London
to insulin hero
Ont. - Everyone knows that Sir Frederick Banting conceived his
great discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921.
He developed insulin at U of T but his first great breakthrough
- the illuminating idea that made the discovery possible - came
in London, at 442 Adelaide St. N. to be precise. And a group of
people, most of whom are alive only because of Banting's work, want
to turn the old house into a memorial to him.
Banting was 28 and a struggling doctor
just starting practice in 1920 when he bought the three storey brick
To supplement his income, he lectured
at the University of Western Ontario medical school. At 2.30 a.m.
on Oct. 30,1920, while thinking about a lecture on the pancreas,
he conceived the idea for the possible treatment of diabetes and
jotted it down in these words: "Ligate (tie off) pancreatic ducts
of dog. Wait six or eight weeks. Remove residue and extract." The
extract eventually was developed into insulin.
Until then, no one had found a way
to help diabetics, although it was known that animals died of diabetes
when their pancreas was removed.
Because UWO did not have the facilities
to conduct experiments, Banting went to U of T, where he teamed
up with Charles Best. Together, they carried out the investigations
that led to the discovery of insulin, using Banting's basic idea.
The Canadian Diabetes Association
calls Banting House, as his old home is known, the Birthplace of
Insulin. It bought the building last year at a cost of $125,000
and is using it as offices for its Ontario division and the London
and district branch.
The association wants to restore
parts of the house as a museum, using period furnishings and some
of Banting's original furniture, including his bed and desk. The
museum, in Banting's old waiting room, would be open to the public.
The remainder of the building would continue to be office space.
Banting, who died in a plane crash
in 1941, was knighted for his discovery and he and Best were jointly
awarded a Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1923.
The estimated cost of restoring Banting
House is $500,000, including a $100,000 trust fund to operate the
Vic Mitrow, president of the London
chapter of the association, said it is fitting that "we should purchase
the building where an idea was born that has improved and prolonged
the lives of millions of people."
He said diabetics are determined
to turn it into "a monument to a great Canadian hero, in a country
where there are far too few monuments to recognize its true heros."