Yet when Canadian doctor Frederick Banting was told in 1923 that he had won the Nobel Prize for this life-saving discovery, he was furious. For the prize had not been awarded to him alone – but jointly with a man whom he felt had no right to this honour. The human story behind this discovery is one of ongoing political and scientific controversy.
Taking the reader on a fascinating journey, starting with the discovery of insulin in the 1920s through to the present day, ‘Insulin – The Crooked Timber’ reveals a story of monstrous egos, toxic career rivalries, and a few unsung heroes such as two little known scientists whose work on wool fibres, carried out in a fume-filled former stable, not only proved to be crucial in unravelling the puzzle of insulin but ushered in a revolution in biology.
It was the author’s own shocking diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes that prompted him to sit down and write this book, but this story has lessons for us all about what technology can – and more importantly cannot – do for us. As the world pins its hopes on effective and lasting vaccines against Covid-19, these lessons from the story of insulin have never been more relevant.