Thursday, January 06, 2005

ANOTHER CHANCE TO SEE... Struan Sutherland

Great article in The Australian about the work of the late Struan Sutherland, the anti-venom pioneer. It's entitled Dos and don'ts about our toxic creepy crawlies, and here's a snippet...
THE author of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy once travelled to Melbourne to meet the world's expert on venomous creatures. In his 1999 book Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams reported on his encounter with anti-venom pioneer Struan Sutherland, then with the federal Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, now a private company specialising in flu vaccines.

"Can't stand all these poisonous creatures, all the snakes and insects and fish and things," Sutherland announced to his surprised guest. "Stupid things, biting everybody. And then people expect me to tell them what to do about it. I'll tell them what to do. Don't get bitten in the first place. That's the answer. I've had enough of it," he added fiercely.

Nearly 15 years on, Adams and Sutherland have gone to their respective versions of the afterlife or lack thereof. Not so Australia's venomous biters of the bush. From brown snakes, taipans and death adders to tiny toxic insects, they're out there and they're dangerous.

Fortunately, Sutherland's work carries on. Under the banner of the Australian Venom Research Unit at Melbourne University - established by Sutherland in 1994 - self-described "toxinologist" Ken Winkel and his colleagues continue the study of "kill-you-deads" and their toxins, not to mention treatments and tactics for the unwary and the bitten.
Complete article continues....