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