World Diabetes Day
November 14, 2013 will be World Diabetes day. The day was chosen deliberately since it is the birthday of Fredrick Banting (the man credited with discovering Insulin) who was born November 14, 1891. Mr. Banting shared the Nobel Prize with John Macleod who was the administrative department head of the meager department in which Banting worked. The Research took place at the University of Toronto.
Now some things from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Banting (not a reliable source)
1. Banting shared his Nobel Prize money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best.
2. As of September 2011, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine.
3. The Canadian government gave him a lifetime annuity to work on his research.
4. In 1934 he was knighted by King George V. In 2004,
5. Frederick Banting was voted fourth place on the list of the greatest Canadians.
6. There is another living mammal to remember:
“On August 31, 1921, in the early days of his research, one of Frederick Banting’s beloved test subjects died. Referred to in his notes as “Dog 92,” the collie provided Banting’s first real success during his research. The dog lived for twenty days without a pancreas, surviving with an extract Banting and Best called “isletin.”
When Dog 92 died, Banting cried. He always loved and appreciated the sacrifice the dogs were making so that humans might live. “I shall never forget that dog as long as I shall live,” Banting wrote of Dog 92 in 1940, “ when that dog died I wanted to be alone for the tears would fall despite anything I could do” (Cooper & Ainsberg, 2010).
So yes we should celebrate World Diabetes Day. But there is something else. We need to remember insulin is the product of research. It is research based on prior discoveries:
“An article he read about the pancreas piqued Banting's interest in diabetes. Research by Naunyn, Minkowski, Opie, Schafer, and others suggested that diabetes resulted from a lack of a protein hormone secreted by the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas”
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Banting (not a reliable source)
That research was built on volunteers who gave their time and effort to be small pieces of a very big puzzle. We have similar volunteers among us today. When I was doing my dissertation the committee chairperson explained research like this. No one gets to solve the whole puzzle. What researchers do is find little bricks that fill in the wall. When people volunteer for medical research related to diabetes, they fill in a little piece of the wall that will someday be enough to stop the progression of the disease. They will not likely solve the whole puzzle but their little piece of the puzzle is something that every other researcher can build on. Even researchers who spend years on an issue and they find their research target did not work, they added a brick to the wall. That brick is available for others to build on.
Here is the thing whatever the outcome, it will not be one researcher with a miraculous breakthrough. It will instead be an outcome based on years of research, blind alleys, and yes some building block breakthroughs. It will also depend on patients willing to take the risk. From the blog over the weekend I know Clare is participating in research (http://www.tudiabetes.org/profiles/blogs/clinical-trial).
I know because she has told me, that one of our members has undergone two pancreas transplants, both of which were ultimately unsuccessful.
I know the founders of our web site took a chance and built a web site that is now recognized as one of the main social media sites for medical issues in the world. Yes Manny and Emily offered their own brick in the wall. Yes social media will also play a part in solving this issue.
I know because they have told me that some of our members have been test subjects for new drugs, new insulin and medical devices. When someone does this they are heroes in our fight to solve the issues that are part of being diabetic. Yes the scientists are heroes, but so are the test subjects. This year let’s celebrate not just progress, and not just scientists, let’s also celebrate the people who lay it on the line to acquire the building blocks. Let’s celebrate the fact that there are many among us who have and are laying it on the line to acquire another brick in the wall.
Cooper, Thea, & Ainsberg, Arthur. (2010). Breakthrough : Elizabeth Hughes, the discovery of insulin, and the making of a medical miracle (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.