The Father of modern genetics in Quebec
Dr. Charles Scriver committed his life to the study of genetic disorders in children. Most notably, he and his collaborators discovered hereditary forms of rickets in children and how the disease could be treated with the addition of vitamin D to marketed milk. This finding significantly raised society’s awareness of the causes and the genetics of the disease. Scriver and his colleagues subsequently developed and instituted, through the ground-breaking Quebec Genetic Network, a method to examine the blood of newborn infants and screen them for a number of inherited biochemical conditions, such as PKU and hypothyroidism, allowing early and effective treatment. Dr. Scriver also played a lead role in exploring the wider social issues that accompany this research. Beyond clinical treatment, his ability to translate fundamental laboratory findings into broader social understanding of human diversity empowered individual patients, families, communities and policymakers alike. Over his five-decade career at McGill University as a teacher as well as a pioneering geneticist, Dr. Scriver collaborated with patients, colleagues and students in a uniquely stimulating and supportive way through which further generations of clinician-scientists have been mentored in his mould.