In 1922, while doing research at a University of Toronto laboratory, he and his young assistant, Dr. Charles Best discovered the pancreatic hormone insulin, one of the most significant advances in medicine at the time. Until this time, the millions of people worldwide who suffered from the endocrinal disease, diabetes, could not be treated and it was one of the leading causes of death. People suffered from problems with fat and protein metabolism, leading to blindness and then death only a short time after the onset of the illness.
At the pinnacle of his brilliant career, Dr. Banting was killed on February 21, 1941 when his plane crashed as he prepared to assist in World War II. He is interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.