“I grew up in the desert and was always outdoors. I loved the creatures of the desert and thought everybody loved snakes, spiders and Gila Monsters.”
“INTERNATIONAL AUTHORITY AND ANTIVENIN RESEARCHER...”
Growing up in Tucson, surrounded by the Sonoran Desert and its many types of venomous creatures, Leslie Boyer understood from an early age the suffering and disability that can come from snake, spider, scorpion and other bites and stings.
But this didn't deter her an instant from studying the desert's dangerous denizens. "Scary creatures are just more interesting than most anything else," she believes.
Thanks to this early interest and her lifelong study, an area of medicine once considered a scientific backwater has become a research frontier, and Boyer is internationally recognized for her contributions to antivenin research in a multifaceted career that also encompasses public health and education.
Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ-8), Boyer is Medical Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center (APDIC), Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and Director of Clinical Toxicology for the US Army Darnell Emergency Medicine program.
She has focused attention on venomous bites and stings as a little-recognized public health issue, including emphasizing the need to develop antivenin serums and medications. Thanks to her collaboration with toxicologists from the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (UAHSC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the first and only antivenin to be approved in the modern era.
Under her vision and leadership, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center (APDIC) was formed, becoming one of the first of its kind in the country to offer poison and medication-related emergency treatment advice, poison prevention information, and referrals and information on poisons and toxins.
Boyer has worked tirelessly to secure the public support and funding necessary for APDIC's survival and expansion, including its extensive public information and education programs about toxic hazards in the community.
"There is so much to learn from venomous creatures," she says. "I hope someday to help find the compatibilities among medicine, biology and phylogenetics that will lead to new medicines. That's going to be a research frontier for many years to come."
Prior to her arrival at UAHSC in 1989 as Chief Resident in Pediatrics, Boyer completed a two-year residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston. In 1991, she completed a fellowship in Clinical Toxicology at the University of Arizona.
A four-time winner of the UAHSC Dean's List for Excellence in Teaching Award, in 1994 she was recognized with the Governor's Award for Excellence for her participation in Arizona's Comprehensive Environmental Risk Program, which brought together stakeholders from around the state to identify the various environmental concerns impacting Arizona's quality of life and, as a by-product, establish a baseline of useful information, such as poison control.
She was inducted in 1996 into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. As an acknowledged expert snake and scorpion poisoning, Boyer has appeared numerous times on television and radio, including National Geographic, The Discovery Channel and National Public Radio. She is widely published, with more than ten chapters in scholarly books and monographs, and over twenty medical journal articles and abstracts. She also is a popular presenter at toxicology and poison treatment seminars.
Fellowship in Medical Toxicology, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson
Appointed Medical Director, Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, Tucson
Appointed Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Health Sciences Center, Tucson
Appointed Medical Executive Committee, University of Arizona Medical Center
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA