I have the honour to present Charles Robert Scriver, Order of Canada, Doctor of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Internationally known as an Educator, Physician, and Scientist, Charles Scriver has made and will continue to make a major contribution to the development of Human Genetics, and its impact on the health of Canadians both in his home province of Quebec, as well as in the rest of Canada and internationally.
Born in 1930, in Montreal, Quebec, Charles Scriver was educated at McGill University, receiving his B.A. in 1951, and his M.D. in 1955. He then undertook clinical training in Paediatrics at McGill University and Harvard University. By the end of his residency training in Paediatrics in 1958, he recognized the importance of the emerging field of human biochemical genetics and obtained a McLaughlin Travelling Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, to work with Professor Charles Dent, at University College Hospital, University of London, England to study the inborn errors of metabolism, particularly the aminoacidopathies, and vitamin D resistant rickets. It was during this period that his interest in the Inborn Errors of Metabolism and Human Genetics took firm root, and his lifelong research interests were founded. On his return to McGill, and during his chief residency in Paediatrics at the Montreal Childrens Hospital, he founded the De Belle Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics which he has directed since that time.
In 1961 Charles Scriver joined the faculty of McGill University in the Department of Paediatrics. He was a Markle Scholar from 1961 to 1966. In 1968 he became an Associate of the Medical Research Council, and in 1969 was appointed Professor of Paediatrics. In 1972 the Medical Research Council established a Human Genetics Research Group at McGill University and Charles Scriver became one of its co-directors. He was appointed Professor of Human Genetics at McGill University in 1978.
Charles Scriver is the epitome of the true clinician-scientist. The De Belle laboratory of Biochemical Genetics at the Montreal Childrens Hospital has been closely involved in elucidating the basic mechanisms of several metabolic diseases, as well as in the development of animal models for human genetic disease. From such an extensive and distinguished career it is difficult to single out one contribution over all others. One must however mention his work, on rickets in general and on vitamin D resistant and hypophosphatemic rickets in particular. This work led directly not only to dramatic improvements in the treatment of these two genetic forms of childhood rickets but also to the inclusion of vitamin D in the milk supplied to all Canadian children. Charles Scriver was also instrumental in establishing the first Canadian food-bank to ensure that children all across Canada, with special dietary requirements due to geneticmetabolic diseases, were able to obtain the special diets that they required at a reasonable cost. Such was Charles Scriver's view of the unity of health and disease that he was able to use rare examples of errors occurring in nature to increase our understanding of normal human physiology. In this connection he has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms by which molecules are transported across membranes, by studying mutant genes which interfere with such transport in both man and the mouse.
In 1969 together with his francophone colleagues, Charles Scriver established the Quebec Network for Genetic Medicine, and through that network was instrumental in establishing extensive newborn genetic screening programs in the Province of Quebec allowing the early identification and hence more effective treatment of many infants with severe genetic metabolic disorders. These programs have served as models for newborn genetic screening programs in other Provinces, including here in Manitoba. At the time of its formation the Quebec network was unique in that it provided not only screening, but also education, follow-up, diaghosis and treatment all within one integrated program. His work and that of his colleagues has thus led to major improvements in the health of future generations including the generation represented here today.
Charles Scriver's career has extended far beyond the laboratory or even the bedside. He has been active in his community, and was instrumental in having changes made to the Quebec high school biology curriculum to ensure a more extensive treatment of human biology and human genetics in the high schools. Along with the Mediterranean and Jewish communities of Montreal, Charles Scriver was instrumental in developing community based screening programs for Thalassaemia and Tay Sachs disease.
Together with his francophone colleagues at Laval University and the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi he was instrumental in the founding, and now co-directs the Inter-University Centre for Population Research whose prime objective is a cross cultural study of social, historical, demographic and genetic factors in the French Canadian population of NorthEastern Quebec.
Charles Scriver has received many honours and awards for his work on human metabolic disease. In 1985 he became an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1978 he received the William Allen award of the American Society of Human Genetics, in 1979 the Gairdner Award; in 1981 the McLaughlin Medal of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1983 he was the Canadian Rutherford lecturer of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and was elected to the Fellowship of that Society in 1991.
Charles Scriver continues to make an active contribution to Canadian Science and Medicine. Most recently he has served on the Science Council of Canada and chaired their Committee on Genetic Predisposition. The report of that committee entitled "Genetics in Canadian Health Care" was published in 1991 and is likely to become a seminal document in the shaping of Genetic Medicine in Canada over the next decade and beyond into the twenty-first century.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour and great personal pleasure for me to ask, in the name of the Senate of the University of Manitoba, that you confer on Charles Robert Scriver, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba