The lack of business troubled Banting, who was always worried about debt. He took on a second job as a lecturer at the local medical school, University of Western Ontario. As part of this job, he was preparing for a lecture on the pancreas, scheduled for November 1, 1920. During his preparation he read an article entitled, “The Relation of the Islets of Langerhans to Diabetes with Special Reference to Cases of Pancreatic Lithiasis,” by Dr. Moses Barron. In this article, Barron described an unusual case where a pancreatic stone had formed and blocked the main pancreatic duct. The blockage destroyed the one part of the pancreas, the acinar cells, but not another, known as the islets of Langerhans.
Fred recalled the night this way,
It was one of those nights when I was disturbed and could not sleep. I thought about the lecture and about the article and I thought about my miseries and how I would like to get out of debt and away from worry.
Finally about two in the morning after the lecture and article had been chasing each other through my mind for some time, the idea occurred to me that by the experimental ligation of the duct and the subsequent degeneration of a portion of the pancreas, that one might obtain the internal secretion free from the external secretion. I got up and wrote down the idea and spent most of the night thinking about it.
That night would not only change Fred Banting’s life, but also the lives of thousands of others, including George Minot.