The Division of Endocrinology can trace its roots to the early days after the discovery of insulin by doctors Banting and Best at the University of Toronto. In 1923, Dr. Fred Banting was appointed physician in charge of diabetes at the Hospital, and a specialized diabetes clinic was established the following year. This made it possible to carry out metabolic studies that helped establish the principles of care for children with juvenile diabetes.
Endocrinology research became more firmly established at SickKids with the appointment of Dr. A. L. Chute to the Department of Physiology in 1939 and the establishment of a semi-autonomous Research Institute in 1953. Throughout his long and illustrious career at the Hospital, Dr. Chute conducted landmark clinical studies which led to a better understanding of the long-term complications of juvenile diabetes and the efficacy of animal growth hormone in treating children with pituitary deficiency, among other things. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The Division became a formal entity in 1970, and quickly became known as a pioneering centre for paediatric endocrine research and clinical studies. Of particular note was the establishment, in the mid-70s, of a newborn screening program for congenital thyroid deficiency.
The diabetes program has continued to be a focal point of the Division's activities. Close to 100 children and adolescents with new-onset diabetes are assessed every year, and over 800 receive comprehensive tertiary care at the Hospital. With the ongoing development of an ambulatory care program for children with diabetes and other endocrine disorders, hospital admissions have been decreasing.