Kelvin K. Ogilvie 1942–
Sometimes, our brightest ideas come from our biggest disappointments. When I was at the University of Manitoba in 1970, a failed experiment gave me an insight that made me think that I could design a molecule that would slow down viruses. A few years later at McGill University, I pushed this idea forward, and ended up inventing the antiviral drug Ganciclovir. This drug has saved the lives of countless organ transplant recipients and people suffering from AIDS. Scientists are still exploring Ganciclovir's possibilities.
I also invented an automated process for manufacturing DNA, the building blocks of life. My so-called 'Gene Machine' opened the door to a new era in biotechnology by enabling genetic engineering to take off.
I was also the first to chemically synthesize the whole sequence of a transfer RNA molecule. We isolated it and put it in a cellular system and it worked. The press loved it saying that we had created a "flicker of life".
In 1987, I returned to my native Nova Scotia to educate the next generation of scientists. As President of Acadia University, I dedicated myself to integrating technology in the classroom. In 1996, I implemented the Acadia Advantage Program that involved providing access to the internet from every location on campus, and where students received a new laptop computer every fall.
Although I am retired from academic life, I take pride in guiding innovative research through my work as a senator and as a science advisor to boards and organizations across the country.