“The point of life is… to achieve a form of im­mor­tal­ity through dis­cov­ery. ”

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UPFRONT - ALI­SON WALSH

Fry, 44, is an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor in the school of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences at the Univer­sity of Queens­land. He lives at Mount Glo­ri­ous, about 30km north-west of Bris­bane. Fry only re­searches venom he’s col­lected him­self, from crea­tures such as wa­ter shrews in Siberia, gi­ant oc­to­puses in Antarc­tica, vam­pire bats in the Ama­zon and Malaysian king co­bras. I grew up in … the United States, and we trav­elled to Nor­way ev­ery sum­mer to my mother’s fam­ily. I re­alised my call­ing when … I was four. I an­nounced that I would study ven­omous snakes when I grew up. I came to Aus­tralia be­cause … it has lots of ven­omous crea­tures. I left the US in 1997 when I got a PhD schol­ar­ship at UQ. My most trea­sured pos­ses­sion is … af­ter my dar­ling wife, Kristina, a ko­modo dragon head. My wife is like a Bond girl – at our wed­ding there were body­guards with ma­chine guns; her fa­ther is a Soviet war hero. Be­ing bit­ten by snakes is … part of the job. My 27th bite was from a sea snake when I was up in the Gulf of Car­pen­taria. I’ve milked about 40,000 snakes and you can’t pre­vent ev­ery­thing. My favourite smell is … Two bites from West Aus­tralian black snakes de­stroyed my sense of smell. A song I can’t help singing along to is … Alice Cooper’s Poi­son. The ques­tion I’m most of­ten asked is … are you com­pletely in­sane? My next chal­lenge is to … I just had my venom text­book pub­lished by Ox­ford Univer­sity Press and now I want to ex­pand my lab into blood re­search to dis­cover how tox­ins work in the blood and how they can be used in ther­a­peu­tics. I want to set up a Blood In­sti­tute at UQ. The point of life is … to find some­thing in in­tel­lec­tual pur­suit which I can pour my life force into and leave an in­tel­lec­tual legacy – to achieve a form of im­mor­tal­ity through dis­cov­ery. Pas­sion is fuel.

Venom Doc by Bryan Grieg Fry (Ha­chette, $33), is out now.

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