Charles Best

@Co-discoverer of Insulin, Birthday and Life

Charles Best was a great scientist and a renowned physiologist who is remembered for being the co-discoverer of insulin

Feb 27, 1899

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Personal Details

  • Birthday: February 27, 1899
  • Died on: March 31, 1978
  • Nationality: Canadian, American
  • Famous: Co-discoverer of Insulin, Physicians, Physiologists, Biochemists
  • Spouses: Margaret Mahon (1900–1988);
  • Childrens: Charles Alexander Best, Henry Bruce Macleod Best
  • Universities:
    • University of Toronto

Charles Best born at

Pembroke, Ontario

Birth Place

Childhood And Early LifeBest was born on 27th February 1899 in West Pembroke, Canada. His father, Herbert Huestes Best, was a doctor an Luella Fisher was his mother. Best got admission for the Bachelor of Arts degree course in University of Toronto in 1916 but he interrupted his studies to join the Canadian army. He participated in World War I as part of the 2nd Canadian Tank Battalion of Canadian Army and resumed his studies after the war, rejoining the University of Toronto. In 1921, Best, at the age of 22, graduated in physiology and biochemistry. In the same year, he got an opportunity to work with Frederick Banting in his research to obtain a pancreatic extract of insulin so that it can be used for controlling diabetes mellitus. Though he was part of the research, he did not receive the Nobel Prize in 1923 for Physiology or Medicine along with Banting and J. J. R. Macleod because he had not completed his medical degree then. However, Banting voluntarily shared his portion of the prize with Best as an honor to his contribution to the research. Best had some personal interest in finding an effective treatment for diabetes for his aunt had died from diabetes in 1918. Best also discovered the vitamin ‘choline’ and the enzyme ‘histaminase’ and was one of the first to introduce anticoagulants to treat thrombosis. Best’s talents were not confined just to academics; he was a good athlete too. He was a professional basketball player and paid his fee with his earnings from basketball matches. However, his real calling being science, Best did not choose to become an athlete and opted for the research offer of Frederick Banting, turning down an offer to play in a high ranking team.Co-discovery Of InsulinSpring of 1921 became a turning point in Best’s life. It was during this time that Dr. Banting travelled to Toronto to visit J.J.R. Macleod who was working as the professor of physiology at the University of Toronto. Banting asked Macleod for permission to use his laboratory for his research work. Though skeptical initially, Macleod eventually agreed to allow Dr. Banting to use his laboratory and also allotted two medical students, Charles Best and Clark Noble, to assist in the research. However, Banting needed only one assistant and so, he flipped a coin to decide whom to pick. The coin favoured Best and he became Banting’s assistant for research. Banting was deeply impressed by Best’s efforts in the research and gave him majority of the credit for the discovery. Banting also shared half of His Nobel Prize remuneration with Best.Career Post DiscoveryAfter the successful participation in the discovery of insulin, Best joined as a professor of Physiology in the University of Toronto in 1929, succeeding Macleod. He played an instrumental role in establishing a Canadian program for securing and using dried human blood serum. He then became an adviser to the United Nations World Health Organization’s ‘Medical Research Committee’.Personal Life Best married Margaret Hooper Mahon in 1924 in Toronto and the couple had two sons.  One among their sons was Dr. Henry Best, a well-regarded historian who went on to become president of Laurentian University in Sudbury. Charles Best died in Toronto on March 31, 1978.Awards And HonorsBest was elected as a member of foreign American Academy of Arts and Sciences as an honorary member in 1948.He was recognized for his contribution to medicine and made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967.Best was placed as the commander of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire and was also awarded a membership of Order of the Companions of Honor in 1971.Best was also bestowed with the fellowship of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada.He was elected into the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and became the first Canadian to receive this honor.He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1994, posthumously.He was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004, posthumously.Educational institutions like Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, C.H. Best East Middle School in Toronto, Ontario and British Columbia, C.H. Best West Elementary School in Burlington, Ontario are named in his honor.Best received as many as eighteen Honorary Degrees from many Universities around the world. These universities are:Aristotelian University of ThessalonikiFree University of BerlinHebrew University of JerusalemNorthwestern UniversityUniversité Sorbonne de ParisUniversity of AmsterdamUniversity of CambridgeUniversity of ChicagoUniversity of ChileUniversity of EdinburghUniversity of LiègeUniversity of LouvainUniversity of MelbourneUniversity of OxfordUniversity of San MarcosUniversity of TorontoUniversity of UruguayUniversity of Zagreb

Biography detail