Physicians in Canadian History - Sir Frederick Banting

 Sir Frederick Banting is most known for the incredible discovery of insulin, one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the twentieth century, for which he jointly received the Nobel Prize along with Dr. J.J.R. Macleod. He was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Sir Frederick Banting's discovery came after his hypothesis of isolating the internal secretion of a protein called insulin turned into experiments with Charles Best, a student research assistant provided by Dr. J.J.R. Macleod. Together at the University of Toronto, they began work in 1921 to prove that insulin could be a life-saving effective treatment for diabetes. Their research and collaboration team included Dr. J.J.R. Macleod, James B. Collip, among other collaborators, all incredibly talented in their own right.

In 1922, their luck came with a 14 year old boy who was dying, and they were able to successfully save his life by injecting him with insulin. The discovery became highly published, and his fame and notoriety soared, in particular after receiving the Nobel Prize for his work. Banting and Best sold the patent rights to insulin, which would have made them both very rich, for $1 to the University of Toronto, allowing insulin to be mass-produced and widely available to those who needed it. Banting famously said that the discovery belonged to the world, and not him.

Sir Frederick Banting was not only an incredible researcher, and an accomplished artist, he was also a decorated soldier who served Canada in both World Wars. He was named Canada's first Professor of Medical Research and went on to be knighted by King George V. 

Banting House National Historic Site of Canada, the house where Sir Frederick Banting originally conceived the hypothesis that led to the discovery of insulin, is now a museum in London, Ontario.

Born in 1891 in Alliston, Ontario, Sir Frederick Banting died in 1941 in Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland.

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Physicians in Canadian History - Sir William Osler

Sir William Osler is known as the Father of Modern Medicine. He was a charismatic physician, professor, speaker and author, and by the time of his death, he was one of the most influential and best loved physicians in the English speaking world. He obtained his medical degree at McGill University, and served as a member of the McGill Medical Faculty. Throughout his life and extensive career, he maintained close ties to this Canadian university.

Sir William Osler brought a teaching style that revolutionised the way physicians were taught in North America. He began bringing his medical students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training, and brought a more human side to medical training. He was quoted as saying about his medical students, "Take him from the lecture-rooms, take him from the amphitheatre - put him in the out-patient department, put him in the wards."

This was a teaching method that, although practiced in Europe, was not practiced at all in North America. And by teaching this style in the prestigious medical school of Johns Hopkins Hospital, of which he was a founding professor, and advocating for students to learn from practicing, he revolutionised the medical curriculum in Canada and the United States. The system of postgraduate medical training and education that remains the standard for the Western world today was greatly due to Dr William Osler.

His medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine: Designed for the Use of Practitioners and Students of Medicine was published in 1892, and propelled him as the leading authority on modern medicine. The text was translated into multiple languages, and was considered the Bible of Medicine for more than forty years.

The Osler Library of the History of Medicine was established at McGill University to hold the priceless collection of books and manuscripts that Sir William Osler bequeathed to the university, and it is there that his ashes remain among his treasured books as well, at his request.

Born in 1849 in Bond Head, Ontario, Sir William Osler died in 1919 in Oxford, UK.

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Physicians in Canadian History - Dr. Emily Howard Stowe

A true pioneer in Canadian medical history, as well as Canadian women's rights history, Dr Emily Howard Stowe is the first feature in our 6 part series honouring notable Canadian physicians.

In fact, this feature highlights three trailblazing women in medical history in Canada, with Dr. Emily Howard Stowe at the forefront.

Dr. Emily Howard Stowe has earned her right in Canadian history as the first Canadian woman to practice medicine in Canada. She was also an incredible champion for women's rights in Canada, earning herself the title of the mother of the Suffrage movement in Canada. She spent her whole life campaigning and eventually succeeding for women's access to medical schools she herself was refused entry to because she was female. She was forced to study medicine in the Untied States after being denied entry to the Toronto School of Medicine, the second time she was denied into a school in Canada for being female. She vowed early on to change the opportunities available to women, but first she needed to advance her education however she could.

And so her journey began at the New York Medical College for Women, a homeopathic institution in New York city, where she obtained her degree. She returned to Canada in 1867, setting up practice in Toronto, becoming the first practicing female physician before actually obtaining her licence in Canada. Changing their policies on doctors trained in the United States, by the mid 1860s the medical profession now required these physicians to take further courses before being granted licences to practice. This created more hardship for Dr. Stowe, as she was still denied entry to the University of Toronto, even with her degree!

Her determination persevered, and in 1871, Dr Stowe along with Jenny Kidd Trout, were finally admitted to the Toronto School of Medicine, where they suffered constant ridicule and humiliation by both their student peers and faculty members. In fact, it was Dr. Jenny Trout who became the first licenced female to practice medicine, as she was the first to pass her exams.

Her relentless championing of women's rights in medicine paid off when her own daughter Augusta Stowe-Gullen became the first female physician to graduate from a Canadian medical school in 1883.

In the same year in a public meeting led by Dr. Stowe and the Suffrage Association, the foundation of the Ontario Medical College for Women was granted, Toronto's first medical school for women. This teaching hospital remains a legacy today in the advancement of women's health.

Born in 1831 in Norwich Township, Ontario, Dr. Emily Howard Stowe died in 1903 in Toronto, Ontario.

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Pioneers in Canadian Medical History

​In honour of Canada Day, we are featuring a 6-part series highlighting our most notable pioneer physicians in Canadian Medical History over the coming weeks. Our series will feature the trailblazing Dr. Emily Howard Stowe, Sir William Osler, Sir Frederick Banting, Dr. Wilder Penfield, Dr. Gustave Gingras, and Dr. Lucille Teasdale. Stay tuned discover who these greats were.

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