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Our story since 1925

The Banting Research Foundation's mission

Since 1925 – Banting Research Foundation is a unique, talent spotting beacon.

We identify young rising stars in health science across Canada, and mentor them the way insulin-discoverer and Nobel laureate Sir Frederick Banting was encouraged.

To date, we have supported 1359 young health and biomedical researchers across Canada (totaling $8.6 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.

The History of Frederick G. Banting and Charles H. Best

With very little financial support, Frederick Banting and Charles Best went on to discover one of the most important medical breakthroughs in medical science history.

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 $4.6 million.

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.

Banting, right and student helper, Best, left, are standing on the roof of the medical building with one of the diabetic dogs used in experiments with insulin. (University of Toronto Archives, 1921)
Banting and Best's laboratory room in Medical Building (University of Toronto), 2nd floor, where insulin was discovered. (University of Toronto Archives, 1920s)
10cc bottle, 1 wooden box and a printed insert. The insulin is from Lot 303-27, which was issued in 1925 (according to date on torn box label) by Connaught Laboratories. (University of Toronto Archives/Aventis Pasteur Limited Archives, 1925)


J.P. Bickell Foundation