Frederick Banting was a Canadian medical scientist and physician. In 1923, Banting and Scottish biochemist John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of insulin and its therapeutic potential. Aged 32 at that time, Banting remains the youngest Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. He was knighted by King George V in 1934.
Johns Hopkins Hospital co-founder William Osler was also an avid historian. He redefined medical education with his emphasis on clinical experience and his book The Principles and Practice of Medicine. Born to a missionary father in Canada, he was to follow in his father’s footsteps but decided to study medicine instead.
Canadian thoracic surgeon Norman Bethune served as an army physician for the Canadian Army during World War I. He revolutionized medical science by introducing the concept of mobile blood-transfusion. A Communist Party of Canada member, he later served the Chinese army against Japan, becoming a revered name in China.
Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.
Neuroscientist Wilder Penfield redefined medical science with his innovative way of treating epilepsy patients through surgery. He would note down his patients’ responses when they would be conscious under local anesthesia. He also founded the Montreal Neurological Institute, but was unable to cure his sister’s brain cancer.
A pioneer of molecular biology, Oswald Avery revolutionized science with his research on the chemical processes involved in immunology. The Canadian-American bacteriologist initially aspired to be a musician. He later proved that DNA was the basis of heredity. Though nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, he never won it.
Canadian-American psychiatrist and University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Ian Stevenson believed he had developed his love for the paranormal from his mother, who maintained a well-stocked library on theosophy. His studies included unearthing children’s past life memories. He also penned books such as Reincarnation and Biology.
Jewish Polish-born-Canadian physician and activist Henekh Morgentaler, CM, is noted for his abortion rights advocacy and commitment to enhance healthcare for women. He is counted among the first Canadian doctors who carried out vasectomies for inserting intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancies and provided birth-control pills to unmarried women. He became the first doctor in North America who used vacuum aspiration.
Canadian cell biologist and immunologist Ralph M. Steinman is best remembered for his association with the Rockefeller University and for his co-discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in strengthening the immune system. Unfortunately, he died of pancreatic cancer shortly before the announcement of his Nobel Prize win.
Charles Best made history with his discovery of insulin, along with Sir Frederick Banting, thus paving the path for its use as a treatment for diabetes. He, however, failed to get the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, like Banting, as he didn’t receive his medical degree till 1925.
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk made history when he became the first person to receive a degree from space when he was awarded an honorary degree while on a space mission. He also boasts of an MIT Sloan MBA. A mechanical engineer, he had initially also studied medicine.
Canadian physician and politician John Frederick Hamm, OC, served as the 25th Premier of Nova Scotia from August 16, 1999 to February 24, 2006. He remained MLA for Pictou Centre from May 25, 1993 to June 13, 2006. He negotiated with the federal government for implementing the Atlantic Accord leading to a payment of $830 million by federal government in 2005.
Anderson Ruffin Abbott was the first Canadian-born Black doctor. He had been a surgeon for the Union Army and was also in charge of treating President Abraham Lincoln in his final moments. He had also headed the Provident Hospital, which was the first American training hospital for Black nurses.
Canadian-American surgeon and urologist Charles Brenton Huggins is remembered for his pathbreaking research on how some hormones are related to cancer, which eventually won him the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. His studies paved the way for the cure of cancer, specifically prostate cancer and breast cancer.
French-Canadian poet Nérée Beauchemin was a major figure of the Le Terroir, or The Soil, school of poetry. Additionally, he was also a physician. His works mostly featured the Canadian landscape and the rural life of Quebec and its nearby regions, though he only released two poetry volumes throughout his career.