BIOLOGY OF SCORPIONS 2019
Over 2000 species of scorpions have thus far been identified. They have been found on every continent, except Antarctica, with greater than 50 species in Arizona alone. Scorpions have proven to be adaptable to many diverse and often extremely harsh environments, even without drastic evolutionary changes. Paleozoic scorpions had anatomic features which closely resemble their modern day descendants. They have been worshipped, feared, and respected by man for thousands of years and have been frequently cast as villains in religion, philosophy, and art. This notorious reputation hardly seems warranted when only about 30-40 species are medically significant to humans.
In the United States, about 12,000 scorpion stings are documented annually by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, over 9,000 of those in Arizona alone. While the venom of the only medically important scorpion in the United States, Centruroides sculpturatus, is considered life threatening, death is extremely rare. Medical advances have made treatment safer and more available. With the current antivenom, even the most severe envenomations are seldom admitted to the hospital.
Via their venom, scorpions have been recognized as quite prolific synthetic chemists manufacturing novel bioactive compounds. Early traditional healers exploited this fact in China, India, and Africa. Western medicine, continuing this practice, is exploring scorpion venom peptides and proteins for applications in neurology, immunology, cardiology as well as infectious and neoplastic diseases. In the future, Calcins, a family of toxins found in some scorpions, may offer new insights in translational medicine.
In areas where scorpions are sufficiently abundant, they may play an important role controlling insect populations. With our attention now on climate change and the devastating effects of habitat destruction, the scorpion’s unique natural history may give them an important role as bio-indicators in our rapidly changing ecosystems.
Despite their obvious significance to mankind, surprisingly few scientists are focused on the study of scorpions. This mini-symposium is an opportunity to hear from key opinion leaders and learn recent insights and discoveries about these ancient arthropods.
To celebrate their scientific importance and attraction, their beauty, and conservation, the Chiricahua Desert Museum & Geronimo Event Center and Rare Disease Therapeutics, Inc. partnered to bring you the first Biology of Scorpions Mini-Symposium. Please join us and enjoy the picturesque desert surroundings, the beautiful grounds of the Chiricahua Desert Museum, and the appreciation of the much-maligned scorpion, it’s in our nature.
Dr. Gordon W. Schuett
Dr. Chuck Smith
Dr. William K. Hayes
As a native Arizonan, Jude has yet to outgrow his fascination with the Sonoran Desert, eventually refining his professional interest to all things venomous. He began by studying chemistry at Northern Arizona University and finished with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy. After interning there he joined the College of Pharmacy in their newly formed Poison Control Center. Jude was licensed by the Arizona Board of Pharmacy in 1982, credentialed as a Poison Specialist in 1983, and board Certified in Toxicology in 1997 by the American Board of Applied Toxicology. Around this same time he was promoted from Assistant Director to Managing Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center. Jude remained director of the Poison Center until retiring in 2009. During his time in the Center Jude was awarded an Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund Grant to study the Translocation of Rattlesnakes, authored a dozen and co-authored dozens of articles on venomous animals and has conducted over 100 presentations about venomous animals. He has participated and/or had oversight of clinical research for scorpion, pit viper and black widow antivenoms. Jude currently serves as vice president, medical science liaison for Rare Disease Therapeutics, an orphan pharmaceutical company offering both scorpion and rattlesnake FDA approved antivenoms.
Keith moved to Arizona at the age of 8 years and immediately fell in love with the wildlife so foreign to his Midwest beginnings. As he grew older, a career in pharmacy became his passion, graduating with a doctorate degree from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in 2002. During pharmacy school, he was introduced to the Managing Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center. He was immediately captivated with the people in the center and the lifesaving work they do over the phone. He was hired as an intern in 2000 and as a pharmacist in 2002. His interest with envenomations grew with every scorpion sting or rattlesnake bite he consulted. He was named Managing Director in 2009 after the retirement of Jude McNally. During his time at the center, Keith precepted hundreds of medical/pharmacy residents/students, gave countless lectures in toxicology and envenomations, and has over a dozen publications with a focus on envenomations by scorpions and rattlesnakes. After nine years as Director, he left the poison center to join Rare Disease Therapeutics as Director, Medical Science Liaison.
He has also stayed very active in his profession and community serving as chair or on the board of directors for several organizations; most notably, he is a former Chair of the Envenomation Section for the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, a former board member of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and a Past President of the Arizona Pharmacy Association.
Dr. William K. Hayes
Dr. William K. Hayes is a professor of biology and the director of the Center for Environmental Studies and Stewardship at Loma Linda University, California. He developed a passion for biodiversity during his childhood in Maryland, where he devoted most of his spare time to catching herps and chasing birds. He studied rattlesnake predatory behavior while earning B.S. and M.S. degrees at Walla Walla University, Washington, and examined venom expenditure by rattlesnakes for his Ph.D. at University of Wyoming. Since moving to California in 1996, he and his students have studied a variety of venomous animals, including rattlesnakes, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. They also examine the behavioral ecology and conservation of endangered reptiles and birds, with emphases in the California and Caribbean Islands biodiversity hotspots. In addition to publications in scientific journals, he has written articles about environmental stewardship in an effort to promote a stronger conservation ethic among faith groups, and has co-edited several volumes, including The Biology of Rattlesnakes, The Biology of Rattlesnakes II, and Iguanas: Biology and Conservation.
Paul has been a resident of the 48th state for over 20 years. Since moving to Arizona, he has developed a profound appreciation for the plants and animals of the Southwest. He has spent most of his career in pharmaceuticals with a focus on the acute care setting.
Paul currently serves as Vice President of Sales for Rare Disease Therapeutics, an orphan pharmaceutical company offering both scorpion and rattlesnake FDA approved antivenoms.
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