February 27, 1899

(West Pembroke, Maine)


March 31, 1978


MD, University of Toronto (1925)

DSc, University of London (1928)

Awards & Honours:

1971: Canada Gairdner International Award

1971: Commander of the Order of the British Empire

See All Awards
Picture of Charles H. Best, MD DSc

Co-discovered insulin

Dr. Charles Best

A physiologist, medical researcher and teacher

It was the classic case of being the right man in the right place at the right time. As a recent Honours physiology and biochemistry graduate, Dr. Charles Best was set to work with Dr. J. J. R. Macleod at The University of Toronto. Dr. Macleod presented him with the opportunity to assist Dr. Frederick Banting instead, introducing Dr. Best to a research endeavour that would go on to result in the discovery of insulin – forever changing the field of diabetes and impacting the lives of millions worldwide.

Another notable contribution of Dr. Best was his successful isolation of heparin, which proved to be an effective anti-coagulant. This work had significant clinical implications for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks, embolisms and angina.

Key Facts

Published numerous studies relating to choline, histaminase and carbohydrate metabolism

Made an advisor of the Medical Research Committee for the United Nations World Health Organization

Became honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation and of the Canadian Diabetes Association

Received 18 honorary degrees

Frederick Banting shared his prize money for the discovery of Insulin with him

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Dr. Charles Best enjoyed a long and productive career in medicine that continues to leave an important legacy today. Although not a cure for diabetes, insulin was an effective treatment for a once deadly disease. Millions of people around the world continue to feel gratitude and admiration for his role in the discovery of insulin and heparin.

Picture of Charles H. Best, MD DSc and Sir Frederick Grant Banting


  • Charles H. Best posthumously inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • After the war, Best continued his work with diabetes research.

    In 1953, the Charles H. Best Institute opened. He remained with the Institute until his retirement in 1965.

  • Best was appointed the director of the medical research unit in the Canadian Navy.

    He contributed significantly to the war effort through his studies related to night vision and the prevention of seasickness.

  • Charles Best joined the newly established Banting and Best Medical Research Department

    Blood, Blood

    Best was appointed co-director and honorary research associate. During the 1930s, Best and his research team purified heparin extract for safe human use.

  • Following his early success, Best went on to obtain his medical degree and PhD.

    He eventually replaced Dr. J.J.R. Macleod as head of the Department of Physiology at The University of Toronto in 1929.

  • The Insulin extract was further refined and purified with the expertise and skills of Dr. J.B. Collip, making it available for clinical trials on human subjects

    Diabetes, Diabetes

    The research team sold the patent to The University of Toronto for $1, allowing insulin to be mass produced for the treatment of diabetes. The team received immediate acclaim.

  • Working under Dr. J.J.R Macleod, Banting and Best began laboratory work using dogs to test Banting’s hypothesis that an internal secretion of the pancreas could be used to treat diabetes.


    Best’s methodical approach to chemical analyses and purification complimented Banting’s intuitive intellect. Less than three months later, they isolated a protein hormone which was later named insulin.


He had the gratitude and admiration of his country.