Thursday, January 05, 2006

Introduction

Hullo, and welcome to my site. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to bring my craft and stories to a wider audience, and I'll be wasting no time in helping you all to discover why parasitology has been recently described as 'the new sex' (Parasites Weekly, 2004, vol 1, no 1, p2). I don't mean this to sound like a boast, but if you don't know just how sexy parasitology can be then you aint been seeing much of life recently.

It was very kind of Parasites Weekly to give me the label of being the worlds first celebrity parasitologist. I'm not entirely sure the moniker is deserved, but of course one of the advantages of these blogs is that you can make up your own mind. So I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide whether I fit the bill.

I suppose I should begin by describing a little of myself and what I do for a living. I am a parasitologist by training (by birth probably), which means I have a curious and sometimes inexplicable fascination for a type of organism that by definition is designed to do nasty things. And when I say nasty, I mean it. Over the next few blogs I'll be introducing you to some of them and their particular brand of nastiness. Don't worry if you are a bit squeamish though - if I'm about to write anything particularly nauseating I'll put up a warning - something like this 'WARNING - YUCKINESS AHEAD' This may be graded into 'MILD', 'MODERATE' or 'SEVERE' depending on the content.

I'll also be describing some of the experiments in which I am involved, and introduce you to some of my colleagues and friends. First of all I should also mention that I am happily married with 2 small children, so I don't want anyone taking that 'sex' reference the wrong way (Mrs Dr McCrumble made me write that last bit after seeing what I put above)

I work in the Cumbernauld Institute for Parasitology, which, curiously, is nowhere near the Scottish new town of Cumbernauld. It was named for Prof Dr Ebeneezer McCumbernauld (1823 - 1910), an eminent , but admittedly eccentric Victorian parasitologist who devoted his entire career to novel methods of controlling parasitic infections in black-faced sheep. He was a pioneer in his day, now sadly forgotten due to the fact that he never actually published a single paper. Nowadays he wouldn't get past his first post-doctoral fellowship but back then it was possible to make a decent living (and indeed become eminent) by being born into a wealthy family and setting up a private laboratory somewhere in the scottish lowlands. The original buildings were lost in a fire in 1933, along with all Prof McCumbernauld's specimens, recipes for tinctures and 'anti-worminthic' medicines. (Footnote: His widow died aged 92, when, in 1916, she was trampled by a herd of black-sheep that panicked as she tried to implement her late husbands final control method - a forerunner of todays colonic irrigation technique that involved a length of hose and a handheld pump filled with salted, iced water).


Prof McCumbernauld was often portrayed in contemporary art as a Roman statestman. Here he is seen in a watercolour dated 1905 painted by an anonymous artist


Prof McCumbernauld left a legacy that has been largely forgotten, but in some small way I have picked up where he left off. That is to say, I have followed his model of being independently funded, and thus not a slave to the evil empire of the state funding machine (more on that in a later blog). You should also know that I publish my work under a pseudonym and as an affiliate of another institute of parasitology. This is to protect myself and my famiy for reasons that will become clear (more on THAT in a later blog).

2 comments:

hermione2001ie said...

Dear Dr McCrumble,

Came across your blog, made me laugh, are you for real?!

I've got itchy skin, can you tell me what's wrong?

Oh, by the way. Hope you don't mind but I've advertised your blog on the TES website - that might be where your audience is coming from thus far.

http://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/thread.aspx?story_id=2175836&path=/personal/&threadPage=2

Why don't you say hello to them. It's free to join!

Anna said...

I majored in parasitology when I took up my MPH, but I still feel that I know very little about the subject---I'm glad that I came across your blog! Wow, a celebrity parasitologist! More power to you doc!