Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891 in the city of Alliston in the Ontario province of Canada. After graduating from school, he enrolled in the University of Toronto's medicine program. In 1916, he graduated with his medical degree and promptly joined the Canadian Army's Medical Corps to help troops in World War 1.
During World War 1, he served in a field hospital in Europe and earned a Military Cross for his efforts. After the war ended, he moved back to Canada and received training to become an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in the city of Toronto. In 1920, he was hired to work at the University of Western Ontario's clinic.
On October 31, 1920, he came up with an idea for curing diabetes, a common and deadly affliction. His idea was to isolate insulin, a substance normally secreted by the pancreas, and administering it to people suffering from diabetes. Banting decided to move to Toronto to pursue this idea at the University of Toronto in May 17, 1921.
That summer, Banting tested his idea by surgically operating on domestic dogs. In the operation, he would tie up the ducts on their pancreas' and remove them after several weeks. At this point, each pancreas was filled with concentrated insulin that could be extracted and purified. He then tested the insulin by injecting it into diabetic dogs and was able to keep them alive.
Although the method was crude, it suggested that his ideas would work. Banting united with a chemist named James Collip to extract insulin from cows and they were finally successful in perfecting the method in 1922. The research led to the mass production of insulin, which made it possible for millions of diabetic individuals to survive and live fairly normal lives.
In 1923, Banting and his research partner John Macleod were nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and won. Banting became an overnight celebrity and was honored throughout Canada for his massive achievement. The Canadian government even promised him a lifetime grant to fund further medical research and he was knighted in 1924 by King George V.
In 1924, he married a woman named Marion Robertson. The marriage spawned a single child, William, in 1928, but ultimately ended in divorce in 1932. In 1937, he remarried to a woman named Henrietta Ball.
During the 1930s, Banting began concentrating on research with military applications out of concern for the rise of Nazi Germany. He had a major influence on the development of the first practical G-Suit for pilots, which was widely used by the Royal Air Force in World War 2. He also became involved in researching the production of Anthrax and curing biological agents to counter biological warfare.
Frederick Banting was tragically killed on February 21, 1941 when the bomber he was riding in to England crashed near Newfoundland. After the crash, he helped to treat the injured pilot before dying from his own fatal injuries.