Statement of Purpose
Investing in Research
Board of Trustees
Grant Review Panel
Dr Frederick Banting
In 2012, The Banting Research Foundation marked 87 years of financial support to
Canadian investigators at the beginning of their independent careers in medical research.
Experiments in 1921 by two young investigators at the University of Toronto, Frederick Banting and Charles Best, led to the discovery of insulin, one of the most important medical achievements
of the twentieth century. Few realized that the team succeeded in their research despite the
lack of a track record and inadequate funding. At that time, there was
no granting organization that supported medical research in Canada and research to produce
insulin was considered unlikely to succeed.
This discovery brought worldwide acclaim to Banting and his colleagues,
Best and James Collip, and to their adviser John J R Macleod. Banting and
Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. Prior to the discovery of insulin
there was no way to treat diabetics. Today, the lives of millions worldwide are saved through
the use of this hormone.
Recognizing the need for an organization that would support the ongoing research of Dr Banting and
his associates, a group of prominent citizens led by
Sir William Mulock, then Chancellor of the University of Toronto, set up
Canada's first foundation for medical research. In 1925, the Province of Ontario
granted Letters Patent to The Banting Research Foundation, named in honor of
Sir Robert Falconer, then President of the University of Toronto, was the first Chairman
of the Foundation, and Lieutenant Colonel R W Leonard was the first Honorary Secretary-Treasurer. The first fundraising campaign for the Foundation initiated by this group raised nearly
$500,000 from individual and corporate donations in 1925. These funds supported
Dr Banting's ongoing research, as well as that of other new investigators who had good ideas
but little money. In continuing this tradition, the Foundation awards yearly grants to the
Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, and to Canadian investigators at the
beginning of their careers in medical research.
In 1948, the Foundation received a bequest from the estate of Miss Kate E Taylor of Toronto. Income
from the endowment fund continues to support the research of new Canadian investigators.
Once established in their field, virtually all of our grantees subsequently succeed in securing
grants from larger agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural
Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the National Cancer Institute of Canada to
continue the research they began with the initial support from The Banting Research
The Banting Research Foundation has been instrumental in helping to launch the careers of
past and present grantees, whose scientific discoveries fulfill the legacy of Banting's
discovery of insulin.