- 1928-1985 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
275 boxes and items (33 metres)
Name of creator
Charles Herbert Best was a Canadian physiologist and one of the co-discoverers of insulin. Born in Maine in 1899 to Canadian parents, Best moved to Toronto in 1915, where he completed a degree in physiology and biochemistry. In 1921, as a medical student at the University of Toronto, he worked as an assistant to Dr. Frederick Banting. Together they discovered the pancreatic hormone insulin, which became a treatment for diabetes. In 1923, Banting and J.J.R Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of insulin, while Best was not named in the award, Banting chose to give half of the prize money to Best. Best became a professor of physiology at the University of Toronto in 1927. During his time in the department, he co-authored the textbook The Physiological Basis of Medical Practice (1937) with Norman B. Taylor. After Banting’s death in 1941, Best also became the head of the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research at the University of Toronto. During WWII, Best developed a method of separating and drying blood plasma serum, which could be sent to the front, reconstituted and transfused into wounded soldiers. Best served as an adviser to the Medical Research Committee of the United Nations World Health Organization, and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967. He retired in 1965 and died in 1978.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Transferred in 1982 from his office in the Best Institute to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.
Gift of Dr. Henry Best, 2003
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Correspondence, research notes and articles, offprints of his published research and of his colleagues including Banting and McLeod, his other writings and lectures, biographical material, photographs, films, slides, records, tapes, and cassettes.
Includes material related to the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto; Margaret Mahon Best’s journals 1925-1984(75) describing their life and extensive travels following the discovery, plus several holograph notebooks about Sandy and Henry as
children, and from MMB’s childhood, 1914-1919; original course notes of Charles Best; original holograph insulin manuscript; research, drafts, correspondence and other material related to Margaret and Charley by Henry Best; letters of correspondence to
MMB and HB regarding the death of Alexander (Sandy) Best and Charles Best; letters scientific to Dr. Best; ‘Dear Jessie’ letters from Linda Mahon on her travels with Margaret and Charley to her cousin Jessie at home in Toronto; H.H. Dale letters; photographic images of awards, citations, etc. given to CB; other material related to the discovery of insulin and the writing of the book on their lives by their son, Henry Best.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form: https://fisher.library.utoronto.ca/stack-retrieval-request.
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Uploaded finding aid
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
View online at https://collections.library.utoronto.ca/view/insulin:best.