the worm will turn

Edward Krug kruged at ESSEX.HSC.COLORADO.EDU
Tue Dec 20 13:57:12 EST 1994


I have been following the discussion of training of parasitologist or the
passing on of the practical guild knowledge.  There is niche (trap?) where
one can be paid for one's ability to manipulate the parasites and that is
in contract drug screening.  I work in a lab which grows in vitro nearly
all of the parasitic protozoa (and others) which infect man (girdia,
toxoplasma, trichomonas, leishmania, trypansomes, plasmodium, entamoeba) and
we are working on getting the rest into tissue culture.  There is a
considerable body of practical and ancillary knowledge which doesn't fit
in research publications and is not being passed on by training of
parasitologist.  

I know of other parasite research labs which supplement their financial diet
with commercial contract funds.  I anticipate that for some time this
arrangement, and similar ones in veterinary circles in academic and
commercial enterprises will keep some people employed as parasitologist of
sorts.  Nevertheless, a great deal of hands on knowledge will be lost
every time an experienced parasitologist fully retires.  Although this is
lamentable, I doubt that this field of expertise is the first to
experience this breakup and absorption into other more current
disciplines.  It is perhaps valid to ask if there is information that need
be archived in another format other than published papers, monographs, and
textbooks.  An obvious addition is the use of VIDEO tapeing of live
specimens and unique or rare preparations or habitats.  This may bring in
visions of saving information from dying languages, cultures, or rain
forests, the analogy, including some of the associated tools and methods
may not be inappropriate.  Specifically, with the closure of a
parasitology department all the teaching materials including once in a
lifetime prize specimens will be stored several years, with prize pieces
being appropriated.  Ultimately, however, the proponents for continued
storage will succumb to the demands of those needing more space.   Just
think what we could have learned if someone had the foresight to store a
human in ice for several thousand years.

In the absence of a "preservation society" with repository or national
archives the majority of this material will end up in landfills within 100
years.  I therefore suggest that DISCUSSION BE INITIATED ON ORGANIZED
ARCHIVING OF UNIQUE OR VALUABLE PARASITOLOGICAL MATERIALS, to include
video records.

Ed Krug
Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Colorado Health Sciences Center
kruged at essex.hsc.colorado.edu

N.B.:  Deviants are a statistical necessity.




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