SAVE the parasites

Mark Siddall mes at zoo.toronto.edu
Thu Apr 14 09:44:00 EST 1994


In article <2oh4e6$asl at charm.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu> ppappas at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Peter W Pappas) writes:
>BIOLOGY COURSE.  IT SEEMS THAT PARASITOLOGISTS ARE THE ANTHTHESIS OF 
>CONSERVATION BIOLOGISTS IN THAT WE (OR AT LEAST SOME) ARE TRYING TO SEND SOME 
>SPECIES INTO EXTINCTION.  SHOULD WE BE DOING THIS????  (A PURELY PHILOSOPHICAL 

I am not so sure that it is a purely philosophical question at all.  I've
always been uncomfortable with the emphasis most parasitologists place
on the disease aspect of parasitology.  I think that if this continues too
much longer granting agencies and academic institutions will cease being
interested in parasitology as a discipline in and of itself.  There is
so much more to parasitology that is left hardly explored in comparison
to immunology, pathogenesis etc.  Take for example community-health, 
biogeography, trophic interactions, biodiversity and so on.  Though
these aspects are being championed by some parasitologists, too often
they appear to be marginalized by so-called main-stream parasitology.
How many parasitologists at the graduate student level are being encouraged
to study parasitology for its own sake as opposed to for the sake of 
those parasitized?
When was the last time a major parasitological organization got
together and tried to proactively convince NSF, NSERC etc about the
importance of parasitology beyond disease issues?
I would suggest that the reason most parasitologists get into the field
is not because of the immunology they are doing now, or the notion that
they can save lives of people or livestock, but, because when they were
young and impressionable (and perhaps less cynical as the case may be)
they thought parasites were cool! (pardon my youthful jargon)

I personally am not interested in driving any parasites to extinction.
I still think they're cool just for being parasites.  Undoubtedly that
means I'll have trouble getting an academic position and, moreover, funding
for a research program.

Mark

-- 
Mark Siddall             The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance,
Department of Zoology       - it is the _illusion_ of knowledge.
University of Toronto                             D. J. Boorstein
mes at zoo.toronto.edu



More information about the Parasite mailing list