The Hall

Charles Robert Scriver 1930-

I found amino acids to be fascinating molecules, really. While many colleagues pitied me for that aberration, I enjoyed studying their membrane transport processes – a venture novel at the time and now conventional. For someone with a medical point of view, it is reassuring to know that what I had learned from my 'esoteric' research actually helped patients.

Thirty years on, I realize that I have been doing something in the mainstream; not in minor tributaries. I might say I am like the man who discovers that he has been speaking in prose all his life. I realize that I have been studying processes shaped by evolution to maintain homeostasis [a balanced, regulated state of our bodies' internal processes]. The inborn errors of metabolism (and transport) that I loved to study are simply signposts to homeostatic mechanisms.

Nonetheless, I am hedging my bets and I have taken up the tools of molecular genetics with delight. At the beginning of my research career I dealt with PKU, a disease caused by an enzyme deficiency in infants. Then I entered a period where I was concerned with the screening, treatment, and prevention of PKU and similar diseases. Now I have passed over to the genes themselves, to undertake an intensive analysis of mutations ... My interest is to describe better both the history of these diseases and of genetic mutation in French-Canadians, and to show their relevance to health care.

Canada is an archipelago of populations, each 'island' with its own history. French-Canadians form one of the larger islands. They are fortunate because their cultural (and demographic) history is so well-known. They are less fortunate in that several diseases cluster heavily in French Canada. Each of our investigations has enlarged our knowledge and the opportunities for prevention and treatment of the associated disease. That is the nature of medical research in my experience.

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