The VIPER Institute is based in Tucson, Arizona, and we’re part of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. Together with scientists and clinicians around the world, we study the effects of venom – from spiders, snakes, and scorpions, mainly – on people and animals that are bitten or stung. Some of our affiliated scientists are figuring out how venom interacts with cells and chemicals of the body; others are using venom as the biological starting point for making new drugs. Our doctors and other health professionals work on improved ways to take care of people and animals that have been envenomated (that means injected with venom during a bite or sting). This is important, because venomous creatures are an essential and fascinating part of our natural environment, but venom injury affects millions of people around the world, every year.
VIPER Institute has New Leadership and a New Address University of Arizona’s VIPER Institute, an Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) Center of Excellence established in 2007, has physically moved to the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building in joint affiliation with the BIO5 Institute and the College of Medicine. VIPER recently celebrated a decade of research, training and development led by VIPER’s Founding Director, Leslie Boyer, MD. Dr. Boyer retired June 2018, and is succeeded by Dr. Anne Wertheimer PhD as Director. Under Dr. Boyer’s leadership, VIPER was instrumental in improving the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of snake and scorpion venom injury, through clinical trials of antivenoms, international consortia, and resources to help doctors, zoos and poison control centers manage snakebite emergencies. Dr. Wertheimer joined efforts with VIPER to lead the VIPER Diagnostic Laboratory in 2016 as Co-Principal Investigator of a FDA RO1 grant for clinical trials of a novel coral snake antivenom. She was also instrumental in the development and characterization of a novel Ebola antiserum developed with joint funding from the University of Arizona’s Research Development and Innovation (RDI) Accelerate for Success program and matching funds from the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine that same year. This product is now with the FDA for further evaluation. Dr. Wertheimer brings with her over a decade of commercial diagnostic's development and clinical trials experience.