Dr. Charles R. Scriver: 2010 APS Howland Medal Awardee



Dr. Charles R. Scriver was born in Montreal (11.07.1930).  His childhood took place in a three-generation household during the Depression years.  He attended a local school (Lower Canada College) following which he received his BA (cum laude) from McGill University with major in the humanities and geography.  He continued his education in the McGill Faculty of Medicine receiving his MDCM (cum laude) in 1955.  He completed rotating internships and residencies in McGill teaching hospitals (Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Children’s Hospital) anticipating that he would follow in his parents’ footsteps as an academic physician in internal medicine or pediatric s.  Chance intervened and under the enlightened guidance of Alan Ross (Chief of Pediatrics) he sought broader exposure, initially as a resident in pediatrics at the Children’s Medical Center, Boston.  His name was then submitted, in successful competition, for a McLaughlan Travelling Fellowship which took him to London to study with Professor Charles Dent in the Human Metabolism Unit at University College Hospital Medical School.  During that time (1958-1960) meetings with Prof. Harry Harris and research in Prof. Dent’s Unit led him to his subsequent career in Human Biochemical Genetics.  (During that career, Barton Childs became a key and continuing mentor.)

On his return to McGill University (Dept. of Pediatrics), he received a Markle Scholarship (1961-1966) following which he became an Associate of the Medical Research Council of Canada.  He was appointed Professor of Pediatrics in 1969.   He is currently Alva Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics and Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Biochemistry (Associate), and Biology (Honorary) in the Faculties of Medicine and Science.Dr. Scriver’s research career and interests resemble a network with some 600 publications (www.mcgill.ca/humangenetics/facultyandstaff/emeritus/scriver) populating what could be called the hubs, edges and nodes describing the various aspects of his research and interests in genetics and pediatrics. Dr. Scriver has served as president of the Canadian Society of Clinical Investigation (1975), the Society of Pediatric Research (1976), the American Society of Human Genetics (1987), the Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism (1988), and the American Pediatric Society (1995).  He was co-Director (1972) and then Director of the Medical Research Council Group in Medical Genetics (Canada) (1972-1994), and co-Director of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (Centers of Excellence) (1989-1997).  He is Editor Emeritus of the major book in his field (The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease), now online, which received the 1995 Medical Book Award (American Medical Writers Association) for best book in its cat egory. Dr. Scriver is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Society (London), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.   He has been active on committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Science Council of Canada, among others.  He holds six honorary degrees (D.Sc.), has civil honors from Canada, Quebec and Montreal and has been inducted into the Halls of Fame for Medicine and for Science and Engineering.The legacies of science are concepts, technologies and databases.  Dr. Scriver’s research has contributed to all three.  There has been some progress, some questions have been answered, and some therapies have been developed, but as the poet said: “We shall not cease from exploration / and the end of all our exploring / will be to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time.”


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