null In Memoriam: Charles Robert Scriver, MDCM
The “father of biochemical genetics in Canada” and epitome of the physician scientist, Dr. Scriver had a long and celebrated history at the RI-MUHC
Inducted in 2001 to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Dr. Charles Robert Scriver (1930-2023) is known as the father of biochemical genetics in Canada and is celebrated as the epitome of the physician scientist and a Renaissance person. He forged a unique legacy as both physician and researcher in his long career at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).
Dr. Scriver is credited with establishing in North America the study of inborn errors of metabolism. Colleagues in the field across Canada and the globe have benefitted immensely from his mentorship and legacy. Dr. Scriver obtained his degree in medicine from McGill University in 1955 and completed his clinical training there and at Harvard University in the United States. Bringing research techniques in metabolic disorders that he learned as a McLaughlin Travelling Fellow in the laboratory of Charles Dent in London, England, he returned to McGill as a Markle Foundation Scholar (1961-66) and established the deBelle Laboratory for Biochemical Genetics at the former McGill University−Montreal Children's Hospital Research Institute, where he served as chair of the Research Committee from 1965 to 1976.
With the merge of the McGill University−Montreal Children's Hospital Research Institute into the RI-MUHC in 1999, Dr. Scriver became a member of the RI-MUHC’s Medical Genetics and Genomics Axis. His illustrious research program attracted an array of talented colleagues and students until his retirement in 2009, and for years afterwards. His contributions, including those as a founding member of the Garrod Association, have had a seminal influence on biochemical genetics today.
Dr. Scriver’s work on inborn errors of metabolism, genetic screening, community genetics, population genetics and bioinformatics, among other fields, resulted in influential publications and both civic and scientific recognition. It also drove tangible advances in the field that he called community genetics. Notably, he spearheaded Quebec’s innovative newborn screening program for congenital diseases, which has been replicated internationally. Thanks to his alliance with visionary entrepreneur H. Arnold Steinberg beginning in 1969, his research has had another major impact on generations of children in Quebec. Dr. Scriver discovered that babies suffering from rickets, a disease that affects bone growth and is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, were typically from poor families. The unprecedented alliance between a geneticist and entrepreneur to tackle a public health issue led to the addition of vitamin D to milk sold across Quebec.
Dr. Scriver will be remembered as an extraordinary clinician and scientist whose life was dedicated to making his extensive research, and that of others, meaningful for patients and their families. He is remembered not only as the epitome of the physician scientist, but as a warm and caring individual and a Renaissance person, deeply knowledgeable not only in science, but also in the arts ─ in music, poetry, literature and language.
Among Dr. Scriver’s numerous awards are:
2016: Commander of the Order of Montreal
2007: Honorary D.Sc., McGill University
2007: Honorary D.Sc., University of Western Ontario
2002: Honorary D.Sc., University of British Columbia
2001: Inductee, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
1999: Honorary D.Sc., University of Utrecht
1997: Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec
1996: Companion of the Order of Canada
1995: Prix Québec Wilder-Penfield
1993: Honorary D.Sc., Université de Montréal
1993: Honorary D.Sc., University of Glasgow
1992: Honorary D.Sc., University of Manitoba
1991: Fellow of the Royal Society of London
1985: Officer of the Order of Canada
1981: McLaughlin Medal, Royal Society of Canada 1979: Canada Gairdner International Award
1973: Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
An historic alliance that saved thousands of children in Quebec! (Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation/RI-MUHC)
Charles Scriver, MD (Canadian Medical Hall of Fame)
Charles Scriver: Epitome of the physician scientist (Molecular Genetics and Metabolism)
Charles Robert Scriver (Obituary, The Gazette)
In memoriam: Charles R. Scriver (Health E-News, McGill University)
In memory of Dr. Charles Scriver (The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation)
The geneticist and the grocer: Charles Scriver, Arnold Steinberg and the healing power of food (Health E-News, McGill University)
Scriver, Charles (European Society of Human Genetics)