"It had been my habit for years to keep a book with a black cover into which I could put my research ideas." - Banting, 1940
Banting was asked by Professor Miller to prepare a lecture on carbohydrate metabolism. Knowing little on the subject, Banting withdrew all he could on the subject from the Medical School Library. On the afternoon of October 30th, Banting prepared his lecture. When he retired for the evening he read an article in the November issue of Surgery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, titled "The Relation of the Islets of Langerhans to Diabetes with Special Reference to Cases of Pancreatic Lithiasis." He tried to get to sleep, but could not stop pondering over the article. At 2 a.m., Banting put to paper 25 words which he felt would lead to the successful treatment of diabetes:
Diabetus Ligate pancreatic ducts of dogs. Keep dogs alive till acini degenerate leaving Islets. Try to isolate the internal secretion of these to relieve glycosurea.
Western University Medical School Building under construction, October 1920
Courtesy, J.J. Talman Regional Collection,
D.B. Weldon Library, The University of Western Ontario
Modern facilities were unavailable at Western University. The University of Toronto would not let him begin his experiments until the following spring. With no other choice, Banting continued at Western waiting for the term and classes to come to an end.
On May 14th, 1921, the day he left for Toronto to commence his insulin experiments, Banting informed Rowland Hill Sr. that he might return to "take an office in London later on." It is possible Banting made this statement because he was unsure he would find success in Toronto, or he might not have time for private practice as he was committed to working in three departments at Western University in 1921-22.
Before leaving for Toronto, Banting commented to a friend and patient:
"I would rather take a chance of starving in Toronto, than staying and starving in London."