What We Do

Inspiring health science discovery -Building on the Banting legacy

Bentzinger lab at workThe Banting Research Foundation was established in 1925 in honour of Frederick Banting, who as a young researcher with a bright idea was granted the resources necessary to perform experiments that led to the Nobel-prize winning discovery of insulin.

We believe that all talented young investigators should have access to the financial support that encourages bold new discoveries. To ensure that no such opportunities are lost, we identify young Canadian researchers with limited resources who demonstrate excellence and creativity in health and biomedical science and provide them with Discovery Awards.

Since inception, we have supported 1354 young health and biomedical researchers across Canada (totaling $8 million) through our annual Discovery Award Program. Our Discovery Award Program provides research grants valued at $25,000 to the highest ranked applicants in an annual peer-reviewed competition.

Our alumni have gone on to secure major research funding, made outstanding discoveries, and have emerged as Canada’s leaders and luminaries in medical science. See how our alumni have impacted health and biomedical science across Canada and internationally.

We are a registered charity, governed by a Board of Trustees from academic, corporate, and public sector communities.

Our history

Charles H Best and Frederick G Banting on the roof of the Medical Building, University of Toronto, ca. 1922

Frederick G. Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921, with very little financial support. The Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin was awarded to Banting and J.J.R. Macleod in 1923 and placed Toronto and Canada on the world map for bringing life-saving relief to the multitude of sufferers from diabetes. Leaders of academia at the University of Toronto and private sector recognized this magnificent advance and established The Banting Research Foundation in 1925 to support the ongoing research of Banting and other Canadian scientists.

The first fundraising campaign, led by Sir William Mulock, then Chancellor of the University of Toronto, raised nearly half a million dollars, a considerable sum at the time, from individual and corporate donations. A bequest in 1948 from the estate of Kate E. Taylor of Toronto added to the endowment, now worth $4.6million. 

From its inception, the intent was to create a fund for researchers with “good ideas but no money”, as was the situation for Banting when he approached his Department Chair, J.J.R. Macleod, in 1921 with a request for facilities and resources to pursue his ideas about insulin. The Foundation continues that tradition by investing in researchers who present a project which demonstrates high scientific and discovery merit, and whose research funding is limited.

The Banting Research Foundation was the first and virtually the only organization funding medical research in Canada until 1938 when the National Research Council included medical research in its funding programs and long before the Medical Research Council was established.