Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie

Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie

One of my key objectives is to bring the importance of research and innovation to the attention of parliamentarians by demonstrating how investing in Canadian research leads to social and economic benefit for all Canadians.


The Honourable Kelvin K. Ogilvie, C.M., Ph.D., D.Sc., H.Col., F.C.I.C ., Senator, was (1993–2003) President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where he led the development and implementation of the acclaimed Acadia Advantage Program which was recognized by, and incorporated into, the Permanent Collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC in 1999. He is a leading expert on biotechnology, bioorganic chemistry and genetic engineering. His scientific accomplishments include the development of the chemistry of the “Gene Machine”, an automated process for the manufacture of DNA. He is the inventor of Ganciclovir, a drug used worldwide to fight infections that occur when one’s immune system is weakened. Both of these achievements were recognized in 2000 as "Milestones of Canadian Chemistry in the 20th Century" by the Canadian Society of Chemistry. He also developed a general method for the chemical synthesis of large RNA molecules, demonstrated by the first total chemical synthesis or a functional Transfer RNA (tRNA) molecule, which is still the basis for RNA synthesis worldwide. He has also written and spoken extensively on the challenges facing Canada as a nation, the role of the “knowledge” economy, postsecondary education and entrepreneurship.

Senator Ogilvie became a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manitoba in 1968. He moved to McGill University in 1974 and in 1984 was appointed founding Director, Office of Biotechnology, and Canadian Pacific Professor of Biotechnology at McGill. In 1987 he moved to Acadia University to serve as Vice-President (Academic) and Professor of Chemistry.

Senator Ogilvie has served on numerous national and international organizations, including the Atomic Energy Control Board, the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee, the National Advisory Board for Science and Technology, and the Canadian eBusiness Initiative. He has served as scientific advisor to numerous technology companies and as a consultant and expert witness for international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He is a widely sought after speaker, has a number of patents, and his 150 scientific publications have received more than 5500 citations. He completed a three-year term to Chair of the Premier’s Council for Innovation (Nova Scotia), membership on the Board of Genome Canada, was a member of the Expert Panel on Federal Laboratories (Treasury Board), chaired the Scientific Advisory Board of NRC’s Institute of Marine Bioscience, and chaired the Advisory Board for the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

Senator Ogilvie was named a Steacie Fellow in 1982, was admitted to the Order of Canada in 1991, and in 1992 received the Manning Principal Award as Canada’s outstanding contributor to innovation. He was identified as a Canadian Who Made a Difference in the 1988 Maclean’s Honour Roll, has received four honourary degrees, the Queen Elizabeth Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Commemorative Medal of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, and appeared as a mystery guest on “Front Page Challenge” (1988). He has also received the Buck-Whitney Medal of the ACS (1983). Senator Ogilvie was named an Honourary Colonel in the Canadian Air Force and was an inaugural inductee into the Nova Scotia Discovery Centre Science and Technology Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2009, Dr. Ogilvie was inducted as one of four inaugural inductees into the Girindus “Wall of Fame” for oligonucleotide synthesis.

Dr. Ogilvie was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in Ottawa in November, 2011 and received the Biomedical Science Ambassador Award in May 2012 in Ottawa awarded by Partners in Research. In November 2013 (Montreal) Senator Ogilvie received the Rx&D Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour for his outstanding contributions to health sciences and public health innovation.

Senator Ogilvie was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on August 27th, 2009. He is currently the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, Co-Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and from 2009 to 2015 he served as Chair of the Health Research Caucus.


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