North Central College - Naperville, IL

National Geographic expert to give talk on medical uses for snake venom

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April 13, 2011—Professor and National Geographic expert Zoltan Takacs will give a free talk May 9 at North Central College about how venom from dangerous snakes can be used for medicinal purposes.

Takacs, a professor at University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine who studies venoms and reptiles, will deliver the presentation, “Biodiversity is Good for Your Health: Exploring the World’s Most Toxic Yet Lifesaving Creatures.”

Takacs will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 9, in Madden Theater at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. His talk is free and open to the public. For more information contact Shelly Porcellino at or 630-637-5207.

Toxins in animal venoms are nature’s perfect killers. Yet, the same toxins are the source of a dozen life-saving drugs with a vast potential yet to be explored. Zoltan is co-inventor of the Designer Toxin technology, a technique which generates millions of toxin variants and selects the ones that specifically bind to a target that determine the outcome of a disease. The current focus is on autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

Takacs is a herpetologist, trained pilot and scuba diver who has eluded pirates and dodged stampeding elephants during his travels to 134 countries to collect venoms. He has been bitten six times by venomous snakes and a spitting cobra sprayed venom in his face. His work has been featured on the National Geographic Channel and PBS in several science and natural history documentaries.

Takacs is an Emerging Explorer of the National Geographic Society, has served as an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia University’s Center of Environmental Research and Conservation and is a recipient of a grant from the National Geographic Society's Expedition Council. Visit to learn more about Takacs’ adventures and research.

Takacs' talk is sponsored by Mary and Bruce Feay.

Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit to learn more.

Contact: Nancy Dunker, associate director of public relations, 630-637-5306