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Dr. Baldomero Olivera

Read about Baldomero Olivera, Ph.D., in the September 2002 issue.

Biochemist
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

Lots of kids collect seashells, but Baldomero (“Toto”) Olivera spun the hobby into a scientific career. He studies the potent venom of marine cone snails.

Olivera discovered that cone snail venom contains about a hundred different toxins, each of which targets a specific molecule in the nervous system. That kind of pinpoint accuracy is ideal in a drug. Already, one cone snail toxin is sold as a pain medication. Olivera hopes others will one day provide relief from conditions like epilepsy or neurodegenerative disorders. Thousands of toxins still await study.

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This page last reviewed on July 19, 2011