The name of Charles H. Best, co-discoverer of insulin, Head of the Department of Physiology and Director of the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research in the University of Toronto, is familiar to medical and lay readers all over the world. The story of his early insulin research with Dr. Frederick Banting, as a result of which men and women and children who forty years ago would have had only months or days to live are now spared, has been one of the most dramatic in the annals of medicine.
This volume records the achievements of forty years of medical research, giving direct and easy access to over sixty of Dr. Best’s original important research papers in the fields particularly of insulin, heparin, and choline. It opens with the early papers describing the discovery of insulin, and continues with those dealing with its preparation, extraction, physiologic effects and first clinical applications. Dr. Best has also looked back over the record as given in these papers and provided informative and informal bridges between them which place them in historical perspective.
Among medical scientists Dr. Best is equally well known for initiating and developing modern knowledge of heparin and its use in controlling unwanted clotting of the blood (thrombosis). The discovery of the nutritional importance of choline as a dietary factor that protects the liver was made by Dr. Best and his colleagues in 1932 and this subject has received continued study in Toronto. A number of papers dealing with choline and its dietary precursors (the so-called lipotropic agents) are reproduced in these pages. Other papers discuss the action of histamine, the pioneer Canadian work on collection and storage of blood serum and early experiences with the preparation of dried serum. A brief account of the contribution of Dr. Best and his colleagues to the Naval Medicine is included. Medical readers will find here a valuable condensation of all the enormous body of information on these subjects.
All the references in the original papers have been re-assembled in a master bibliography which is a new and full storehouse of references.
Most of the papers collected in this volume have been produced in collaboration with medical colleagues to whom Dr. Best at all times gives full and enthusiastic recognition. Indeed readers will receive a strong impression that while co-operation and collaboration in medicine are nothing new, the various teams assembled by Dr. Best at the University of Toronto have had an especially remarkable dedication and sense of excitement in the adventure of medical research.