Sir Sandford Fleming vs. Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best

Where does insulin rank as an invention compared to standard time?

Sir Sandford Fleming

Why he’s famous: Fleming got everyone working off the same clock with the introduction of standard time.

Why he deserves to win: Like Bell, Fleming was hardly a one-trick pony. After emigrating to Canada from Scotland at the age of 18, Fleming established the Royal Canadian Institute in 1849 and helped design Canada’s very first postage stamp in 1851. He was also a key supporter of the construction of a cross-Canada railway. But while his role in linking Canada’s coasts is impressive, putting the entire world in sync with standard time is even more so.

Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best

Why they’re famous: Along with Best, a medical student he’d hired, Banting isolated insulin as the hormone which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels.

Why they deserve to win: After reading a paper that suggested diabetes may be caused by a lack of a hormone secreted by islets in the back of the pancreas, he devised a way to isolate the islets by tying off most of the pancreas with ligatures. In 1921, Frederick Banting hired Charles Best and the two removed a dog’s pancreas, which caused blood sugar levels to rise (mimicking diabetics) before injecting the islets back into the dog. The animal lived for several more months, proving they had isolated the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin. By 1922, the pair were bringing comatose diabetics in Toronto back to life. Diabetics worldwide have lived more normal lives ever since.

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