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[IP] Re: Events that led to a discovery

The events regarding Banting and Best referred to in a former post are well 
chronicled in Michael Bliss's The Discovery of Insulin. What I found most 
interesting in reading the book was that things could have gone very 
differently. It seems chance played a big part in the events leading to this 

In the spring before the summer in which he and Best began to work towards a 
cure for diabetes, Banting's fiance Edith broke off their engagement. He was 
beginning to practice medicine and she wanted him to think about settling 
down. His heart was in research for a pancreatic secretion but the dean at 
the university held out little hope for a sufficient salary or assistants to 
help him. He decided what he needed most was to get a long ways away from his 
problems. He heard about an expedition heading to Canada's Northwest 
Territories to drill for oil. They needed a medical officer for the team. 
Banting decided to stake his future on the toss of a coin. Heads was to do 
research and tails was to go to the Artic. The Artic won. He was told he 
could have the job if a medical officer was needed. Bliss writes, "During 
March and April 1921, when Banting is popularly thought to have been waiting 
with 'gnawing impatience and mounting eagerness to start searching for the 
internal secretion of the pancreas in Toronto', he was actually waiting for a 
letter offering him a job as a doctor to an oil expedition. A letter finally 
came saying the group had decided not to take a doctor." 

Banting again met with Macleod and began planning his work. Macleod showed 
him a little room in the physiology department where surgical research had 
once been performed. Nobody had used it for more than a decade. He continued 
to ask for an assistant even though he held out little hope. Then in May, 
Macleod introduced him to two fourth-year students in Physiology and 
Biochemistry, Charles Best and Clark Noble, who were picking up money as 
research assistants for him.  Both were interested in assisting Banting but 
since he was to begin his experiments in the summer, it had to be arranged 
which assistant would work first and which would have to split his holidays 
to work later in the lab. The winner of a coin toss would work first with 
Banting. Charles Best won. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

Bay Area
IDDM 31 years, Pumping 2.5 years
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