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Dr Frederick Banting

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Annual Report, June 30, 2012

Message from the Chairman,
The Banting Research Foundation

Few discoveries have transformed human health and societal recognition of the potential of medical research as that of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting. Few discoveries, as well, have generated so rich a legacy and public resonance.

Established in 1925 to apply donations by the young Banting’s friends, patients and supporters for the specific purpose of funding innovative investigation with potential similar to insulin “to alleviate human suffering,” The Banting Research Foundation has as its present unique mandate the provision of peer-reviewed grants to assist similarly independent faculty initiating their careers at a University or Research Institute in Canada who have modest resources but a passion to pursue imaginative, exciting, yet well grounded new lines of medical research.

In Canada, the transition from post-doctoral fellow to independent investigator is no easier now than it was in Banting’s era. However, the resources required to initiate new lines of research are often orders of magnitude greater. With national peer-review granting agencies constrained in their capacity to provide high-risk early career support, an ever-increasing number of young faculty from across the country turn to The Banting Research Foundation for seed funding; 41 such requests were received in 2012. Each project was adjudicated on the basis of merit by The Foundation’s newly reconstituted term-limited Grant Review Panel, led ably by Professors Reinhart Reithmeier (Chair) and Patricia Brubaker (Vice-Chair).

For the fiscal year July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 the funds available to The Foundation for disbursement were augmented by a generous unrestricted $40,000 grant from the Rx&D Health Research Foundation. Consequently, we were able to award a total of $120,000 to the 6 highest ranked applications. Dr Dennis Jensen of McGill University and Dr Michelle Scott of the University of Sherbrooke were designated The Banting Research Foundation/Rx&D Research Foundation awardees.

The Foundation is deeply grateful to all its Panelists for voluntarily contributing each year their time, expertise and wisdom to this vital task. The Grant Review Panel’s commitment to select the very best applicants and most innovative of the projects proposed is fundamental to The Foundation’s purpose.

In addition to the Rx&D Health Research Foundation, the Trustees acknowledge and thank Mrs Nona Macdonald Heaslip and the Trustees of the Estate of Mrs Bluma Appel for their generous support of The Foundation’s mission. Such spontaneous philanthropy is most welcome and, the Trustees hope, an example and catalyst to others who share our vision.

On November 24, 2011, our sixth “Toronto Evening” dinner in collaboration with Partners in Research, celebrating the accomplishments of both organizations, was held at the University of Toronto’s Hart House. The Foundation’s activities were profiled, the 2011 Grant competition results were announced, and Dr Tara Moriarty of the University of Toronto described briefly her research into how infectious organisms exploit vascular adhesion to disseminate within the blood stream. She then accepted The Banting Research Foundation Awards for 2011 on behalf of all recipients. The evening’s keynote speaker, Dr Brenda Gallie, Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the University of Toronto, now an internationally acclaimed researcher of the rare childhood eye cancer, retinoblastoma, was herself the beneficiary of an early career operating grant from The Banting Research Foundation. Our Trustees thank Mr John Ambrose and all others who volunteered their time, enthusiasm, and expertise to the organization of this event.

For The Foundation, this has been a year of welcome renewal. Our Grant Review Panel has been revitalized, the Foundation’s offices have moved to 6 Queen’s Park Crescent West, and Ramona Rea has assumed most energetically, capably, and cost-effectively responsibility for The Foundation’s day-to-day management. I am grateful to all the members of the Board of Trustees for their sound advice throughout this process, grounded in a sincere and unfailing belief in the Foundation’s continued importance and future promise.

Traditionally, the Foundation has not sought to supplement its endowment through public campaigns. With prudent management of our legacy we have maintained the capacity to fund our commitments at very modest administrative expense. However, it is of concern to the Trustees that our limited resources preclude our supporting many highly meritorious proposals or raising the maximum awarded each individual. To secure The Foundation’s long term capacity to fulfill its stated mission, the Trustees are now engaged actively in a process intended to augment our national profile and our financial resources. Please follow our course, over the next few years, as we re-invigorate The Foundation, and please join us, through your charitable support.

Sincerely,

John Floras MD DPhil, FRCPC
Chairman, Board of Trustees
The Banting Research Foundation