Zoltan Takacs, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has carved out a fascinating career as scientist-adventurer - a biomedical Indiana Jones, if you will. According to a Science Life post, Takacs travels the world to "catch and collect tissue from venomous animals to laboratory experiments that seek to unlock the potential of those toxins for research and clinical use."
Apparently the clinical potential for venom is large:
Takacs estimated that 10 to 20 million different toxins exist in nature. Only 10,000 or so of those toxins have been discovered, and of those only 500 have been thoroughly studied. But from the small supply of well-characterized toxins, at least 12 drugs have already been derived and are currently in use for treating blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks, and diabetes.
"If you face a heart attack in the United States and go to the emergency room, there are three drugs for emergency treatment and two of them are derived from snake venom," Takacs said. "These are truly lifesaving drugs."
The rest of the piece is quite interesting. In fact, National Geographic has even named him one of its 2010 Emerging Explorers. And if you'd like to see photos of Takacs' adventures, you can check them out on his personal site.
Photo by sumitchakraborty77