A kid from an acknowledged “artsy” family (he and his father were regular onstage extras when the opera came to town), Carver (BA 1961 UC) is professor emeritus of medical genetics and microbiology. He first became a renowned biochemistry researcher at U of T and then the renowned CEO of GLYCODesign Inc., a publicly traded biotech company in downtown Toronto with a working capital of $47 million. GLYCODesigns’ prize creation to date is a molecule named GD0039, which has a good chance one day of stopping cancer cells from metastasizing – and being one of the keys to understanding cancer. A staunch campaigner against what he regards as the destructive modern overspecialization of science and the inability of researchers from various disciplines to speak meaningfully to each other, Carver sees the divide between the artistic and scientific methods as equally artificial and frustrating – particularly because his work can’t be done without that certain liberal arts “thing.”
“I’ve said it a hundred times, in recruiting for our company the problem hasn’t been finding people with technical skills, but finding those with people skills,” says Carver. “This isn’t a dreamy New Age mantra, it’s a precise talent. Because we don’t know everything in science, the ability to admit to other people that you don’t know something is a priceless asset, in many ways more important than knowing mere content. The key ingredient in any kind of creative investigation is to be able to think about things synthetically, pull them together and find common threads.”
An article published last year in University of Toronto Magazine about modern liberal arts degrees: Something Rotten in the State of the Arts?