This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The end of terror.
Diabetes. There was a time when the word struck terror in the hearts of parents. A child diagnosed with the disease could expect to live a life of perpetual illness and suffering that would likely end in death before the child emerged from adolescence. That the word no longer strikes terror is largely because of three Canadians: medical scientist Dr. Frederick Banting, his assistant Charles Best, and their University of Toronto patron and adviser J.J.R. Macleod. In their historic summer of 1921, Banting and Best isolated what we now know as insulin while performing experiments in a laboratory loaned to them by the vacationing Macleod. Over the next several months, the small team, which now included biochemist James Collip, refined their discovery until it proved a reliable remedy for the dread disease. The drug firm Eli Lilly and Company came on board in late 1922, using its corporate resources to produce large quantities of highly refined insulin, thereby making the treatment available widely and ending the terror.