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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 20:46 GMT
Snake venom study wins top award
Dr Creer's work compared venom from 'families' of Asian pit vipers
An academic expert in snake biology has won an international award for work on the venom of a deadly species.

Dr Simon Creer, from the University of Wales, Bangor has landed the prize for his study of Asian pit viper DNA.

Judges for the 2004 Joseph B Slowinski Award, presented by US experts, said his work pointed the way forward.

The prize is named after a 38-year-old American herpetologist who died on a field trip in Burma three years ago after he was bitten by a deadly snake.

Dr Creer has worked at the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor, north Wales, for seven years.

He beat off competition from around the world to win the prize, which was presented to him by Sue Assinder, the head of the school.

Dr Simon Creer and Sue Assinder
Dr Creer's work on snake venom DNA was judged world class

Dr Creer said his paper had focused on the best way to use and analyse DNA to accurately reconstruct a 'family tree' for a medically significant group of Asian pit vipers.

"Pit vipers can be a source of serious injury for many people living in certain areas of Asia," he said.

"It is important to work out the 'family tree', as snake venoms can vary within 'families'.

"It is important to incorporate evolutionary information when developing and administering antivenoms."

Ms Assinder said: "It is the mark of a good scientist to be awarded such an honour.

"Dr Creer's work has shown the way forward for others in a particular area of research."

Veteran herpetologist Joseph Bruno Slowinski died in northern Burma in September 2001 after he was bitten by deadly local snake called a krait.

The award is made by the Center for North American Herpetology in Kansas.

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