A view to a lab
November 16, 2018 10:23 AM   Subscribe

As a Type 1 diabetic who grew up in Toronto, I've always had a special place in my heart (and pancreas) for Banting. I decided to get married at University of Toronto's Faculty Club in part because the proceeds would be donated to research and education (in the spirit of Banting), in part because my fiance worked for the university (he still does), and in no small part because there were beautiful paintings by Banting on the walls. He had so much talent in both medicine and art, and valued both, which is a message I think we should send to more schools.

May I remind you all that, if the painting sells for its projected $30,000 CAD, it will make thirty thousand times what Banting sold his insulin patent for. The man asked for $1 because he didn't want to profit from his discovery. May I remind you that, in the US, insulin costs for the patient have more than tripled in the past 15 years, with some brands and types skyrocketing to a 600% increase, and that people are rationing insulin, sickening and even dying because they can't afford the product. (This is one of the many reasons I returned from the States to permanently live in Toronto.)

November 14th, Banting's birthday, is World Diabetes Day. His paintings are lovely, but I wish we could do more to honour his memory and ethos by protecting the people he gave up a fortune to save.
posted by ilana at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2018 [16 favorites]

Not only did he "sell" the patent to u of t to make insulin available quickly, and to recognize that the university lab made his research possible ... He was the toast of Toronto business for doing so!

(Found a clipping about their dinner in Bantong's honour in the online archives!)

Public research is a social good and should be kept free from private interests. This is an ethos we'd be wise to return to. Especially in drug research!
posted by chapps at 3:26 PM on November 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

Thank you for sharing this mandolin conspiracy.

Frederick Banting was a close friend of my family, and all my life I've heard stories & reminiscences of him from my older relatives. Type 1 Diabetes is our "family disease" - I expect a lot of us wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Banting's work.

If anyone is interested there's a documentary about Banting & Best's discovery of insulin, the 1989 multiple Gemini Award winning mini-series Glory Enough For All.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 11:05 PM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just finished reading The Discovery of Insulin, where I learned that the attribution of the discovery was a fairly strong controversy (for instance, Best wasn't awarded a Nobel Prize or, I think, any recognition by the Canadian government at the time) and Banting resented the idea that McLeod had contributed at all. The book doesn't give a very complimentary picture of Banting overall. It does cover the decision to sell the patent for $1 - part of the reason for selling it to the University was that all the other people who could have made claims agreed not to once it was officially being managed for the public good (there was a significant risk a patent he filed alone would not have held up). Many scientists were still angry at the idea that they patented it at all, and the justification given for doing so was to reduce the risk that someone else would patent it for profit, not that the university deserved a reward.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2018

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