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Charles Best

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Charles Best
(February 27, 1899 - March 31, 1978)
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1922
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Image: Univ. of Toronto

Joining a Diabetes Researcher Due to a Flip of a Coin, He Helped Produce a Miracle Treatment


A flip of the coin forever altered the direction of Charles Best's life. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in the spring of 1921, Best wanted to assist Frederick Banting on a new research project. Banting had a theory on the treatment of diabetes, and Best had a deep personal interest in fighting the disease. His aunt had died from diabetes in 1918. But a fellow graduate also wanted the position. They flipped a coin - Best won. He and Banting proved the theory to be true, leading to the discovery of insulin.

Best and Banting wanted to derive the secretions from a particular area of the pancreas, known as the Islets of Langerhans. They believed these secretions, which they could isolate by destroying most of the rest of the pancreas, might be the key to treating diabetes. They had been provided with 10 dogs for the project, from which they would obtain the secretions and prepare an extract. The team expected to complete their research by the end of July. But as is the case in many projects, it took longer than expected and it wasn't until July 30th that they were finally ready to prepare their first dose of extract. Best prepared the extract and they injected it into a diabetic dog. And at last, they knew they had hit on something huge - the blood sugar levels of the dog decreased!  Best and Banting named their extract "isletin." Following further success with animals, the team then turned their attention to human testing. They began with themselves - they wanted to make sure the extract, which the University head renamed "insulin", was safe for human use. Once they were satisfied it was safe, they prepared to test the insulin on their first trial patient. They learned of a 14-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson, who had been admitted to Toronto General Hospital. Thompson barely clung to life, having been ravaged by diabetes for the past two years. He weighed a mere 65 pounds and doctors expected he could survive only a few more weeks. In January of 1922, Best and Banting injected the dying young boy with insulin. They had their first miracle - the insulin rescued Thompson from certain death, and he regained his weight and energy!  On hearing of this miraculous recovery, parents with diabetic children rushed to Toronto, creating a shortage of insulin. The University quickly partnered with the American pharmaceutical company, Lilly. There the purified form of insulin was mass-produced and became readily available to diabetics worldwide, saving millions of lives.

Best was not only a brilliant scientist, he was also an accomplished athlete. He paid for his education through his earnings as a professional baseball player. But, when push came to shove, he chose science and the pursuit of a treatment for diabetes. He was offered a lucrative contract to play baseball in the summer of 1921 - the very same summer during which he had the opportunity to begin his research with Banting. His choice set the course for his future career in medicine and helped save millions of lives.

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Introduction by Tim Anderson

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Bookcoverjacket


Table of Contents

Introduction
Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Key Contributors
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Anecdotes
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Awards
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject
Sources

 








Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Best

Answers.com biography:
http://www.answers.com/topic/charles-best


Well Known Canadians mini-biography:
http://particle.physics.ucdavis.edu/bios/Best.html

PBS.ORG biography:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/redgold/innovators/bio_best.html





Photos of Best (family, friends, military)
click below to view (Images: Univ. of Toronto)







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Images: University of Toronto


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Best with Banting
Best and Banting outside the lab
Charles Best - circa 1918
Best in academic dress - circa 1921
Best at his desk - circa 1929
With Collip (L), Mrs. FNG Starr, Banting (R)
Best at University College, London - 1928
Best in his University of Toronto lab - 1948





Key Insight



Key Experiments or Research

 



Key Contributors

The Team
Explore other scientists who furthered this lifesaving advance.

Lifesavers: Insulin

Frederick Banting
Discovered the first true miracle drug: insulin.
James "Bert" Collip
Developed insulin into a useable human drug.
J.J.R. (John) Macleod
He was the scientist who named insulin.



Quotes by the Scientist




Quotes About the Scientist




Anecdotes




Fun Trivia About the Science




The Science Behind the Discovery



Personal Information



Scientific Discovery Timeline




Recommended Books About the Science




Books by the Scientist




Books About the Scientist

 



Awards




Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist



Curriculum Vitae



Links to Information on the Science





Sources/References